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S. Korea Suspends Presidential Jet Buy

SEOUL – South Korea has cancelled a plan to buy a Boeing-built presidential plane due to disagreements between the two sides over the requirements, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration announced Sept. 16.

The Chicago-based aerospace company had been selected last month as the sole bidder for the $350 million contract after its rival, the European Aeronautic, Defence and Space (EADS) group, dropped out for unknown reasons.

The Seoul government hoped to have a new presidential jet beginning in 2014.

DAPA was asking for the Boeing 747-8 jet, the largest commercial aircraft built in the United States, now under development. The agency had originally wanted the Boeing 747-400 model, but changed the requirement later because production of the model ceased years ago.

DAPA spokesman Kim Young-san said Boeing’s proposal failed to meet the requirements “substantially.”

The agency is considering reopening bidding as early as October or November, Kim said. If that does not happen, the VIP acquisition would be postponed further.

“The VC-X program has been suspended,” the spokesman said. “We’re carrying out a zero-based review of the program.”

There are more than 200 essential requirements and about 50 optional requirements regarding the presidential jet procurement, he said.

“In general, a bidder must meet all essential requirements, but Boeing even failed to satisfy many of the essential standards,” Kim noted. “That’s why we judged Boeing’s proposal was not good to go.”

For example, Boeing did not provide information on some support equipment, spare parts and technical manuals that the agency had requested, he added.

Koh Chang-kyun, communications director of Boeing Korea, declined to comment.

Currently, South Korea’s presidential office operates a Boeing 747-400 aircraft for overseas trips under a four-year contract with Korean Air, the national flag carrier.

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