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Seoul advances maritime helicopter procurement

20 May 2019
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Leonardo supplied the RoKN with eight AW159 helicopters (pictured) for its MOH batch-one requirement. Source: Republic of Korea Navy

South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has issued a tender to procure a second batch of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters for the Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN), it has been confirmed to Jane's .

The programme - the Maritime Operation Helicopter (MOH) batch-two procurement - features the acquisition of 12 helicopters for about KRW900 billion (USD804 million). Under the MOH batch-one programme, Leonardo delivered eight AW159 Wildcat twin-engine multimission helicopters to the RoKN in 2016.

The new tender, in the form of a Request for Proposals (RFP), comes after Leonardo emerged as the sole vendor for the batch-two programme in early 2018 after other bidders, including the US government, declined to respond to an RFP because of concerns about the value of the deal.

The acquisition was then restarted in line with DAPA's procurement rules that state a single-source contract is only permissible after two failed open tenders. In a subsequent tender later in 2018, Leonardo emerged again as the sole bidder, although the US government retabled an offer at a late stage in mid-November 2018, prompting DAPA to restart the competitive bidding process.

Leonardo's offer is a direct commercial sale, while the US is looking to secure a deal through its Foreign Military Sale (FMS) mechanism.

On 20 May both Leonardo and Lockheed Martin confirmed to Jane's that they will bid for the MOH batch-two programme. Leonardo said it will again bid with its AW159 while Lockheed Martin confirmed that it will position its MH-60R Seahawk Romeo maritime multimission helicopter for the RoKN requirement.

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