SEOUL, South Korea ― The South Korean military’s long-sought purchase of training helicopters has been ruptured due to price issues, prompting the arms procurement agency to prepare a rebidding process for the aircraft acquisition project code-named TH-X.
Bell (formerly Bell Helicopter) and Leonardo Helicopters were competing for the $155 million project to procure 41 training helicopters both for the South Korean Army and the Navy, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, or DAPA.
“The TH-X selection, originally due late last year, has been delayed, and a bidder failed to meet some of the TH-X requirements,” DAPA spokesman Kang Hwan-seok said. “As the TH-X acquisition is a competition basis, we’re scheduled to proceed with a rebidding soon.”
Multiple industry sources said the TH-X negotiations broke down mainly because of cost concerns.
“Bidding price was an issue, but there are some other reasons, too,” Kang said, adding his agency would issue a request for proposals again between June and July. He declined to elaborate further.
The South Korean military has sought to introduce new training helicopters to replace the older fleet of MD 500s, which have been operational for more than 30 years. The DAPA issued an RFP for the TH-X in November 2015.
Bell offered its new 505 Jet Ranger light helicopter, which successfully completed its first flight in November 2014, while Leonardo suggested its SW-4 light single-engine multirole helicopter produced its Polish subsidiary PZL Swidnik.
Both companies are expected to participate in the TH-X retender, according to DAPA officials.