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Singapore Airshow 2018: Boeing and Saab position for South Korea’s MPA requirement

09 February 2018
South Korea's MPA requirement will see Saab's Swordfish MPA compete against Boeing's P-8 Poseidon. Source: Source: Saab

Boeing and Saab have confirmed to Jane’s their plans to launch bids to compete for South Korea’s newly announced programme to procure a maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) capability.

Speaking at the Singapore Airshow 2018, company officials said they were engaged with South Korea over the requirement and that they planned to offer proposals to win the contract. Boeing will offer its P-8 Poseidon MPA while Saab will propose its Swordfish MPA.

On 7 February, South Korea’s military procurement agency, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), announced that it was planning to launch the MPA procurement programme in direct response to North Korea’s growing emphasis on developing and deploying submarines equipped with ballistic missiles.

DAPA said in a press release that it plans to procure the MPA from a foreign supplier in light of several factors, including a lack of indigenous capability in producing such aircraft, the required timing of the requirement, and economic efficiencies.

“With the introduction of the maritime patrol aircraft, the maritime and underwater surveillance capabilities will be greatly improved and countermeasures against submarines equipped with submarine-launched ballistic missiles [SLBMs] will be reinforced,” the DAPA press release stated.

DAPA did not disclose the time frame for the procurement but industry officials said they expect a request for information (RFI) in 2018.

The programme is expected to feature the Republic of Korea Navy’s (RoKN’s) acquisition of six MPAs for a reported cost of about USD1.7 billion. The acquired aircraft will initially augment service’s 16 Lockheed Martin P-3 MPAs, which have been in service since the mid-1990s. However, the programme could also expand substantially in the future when the RoKN starts to replace the P-3.

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