KAI's T-50 Golden Eagles in Flight

KAI's T-50 Golden Eagles in Flight

Israel has picked Italy over South Korea for a 30-order supply of new supersonic fighter training aircraft.

South Korea pushed hard in the final week to sway Israel’s decision in purchasing the 30 new combat training aircraft, but the East Asian nation has lost its bid to Italy’s Alenia Aermacchi. Seoul was hoping to ink a $1 billion (US) deal with the Middle Eastern nation to purchase Korea Aerospace Industries’ T-50 Golden Eagle trainer, but UPI reports that Israel considered Italy’s additional incentives to be more favorable.

South Korea’s failure to land the deal with Israel could potentially cause a rift between the two nations and their defense industries:

TEL AVIV, Israel, Feb. 17 (UPI) “The decision is expected to lead to a crisis with South Korea, which had pushed hard to win the deal,” observed Yaakov Katz, defense analyst with The Jerusalem Post.

“Seoul has claimed that Israel favored Italy throughout the competition and that the tender was not conducted according to ‘international standards’.”

Seoul alleged that Israel was unfairly favoring Alenia Aermacchi, a subsidiary of the Italian defense and aerospace giant Finmeccanica, by initialing a preliminary agreement to acquire the M-346.

The loss of a $1 billion contract will be a major blow in South Korea’s quest to achieve $3 billion in defense exports for 2012.

While South Korea is likely still smarting from the loss, president Lee Myung-bak’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey should salve some of the pain, as he succeeded in greasing the wheel for future defense contracts with those nations.

Perhaps president Myung-bak should have paid visit to Israel during his recent visit to the region, instead of only sending a letter as his last-minute attempt to sway the deal.

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Craig was born & raised in the United States, having recently returned there after over five years in Asia. He is currently pursuing further education in the realms of East Asian Studies and Politics. Craig is an avid fan of the political, economic, and military machinations occurring throughout the Asian continent and how those turning gears affect the rest of the world. He's currently covering both North and South Korea for Asia Security Watch, enjoying shedding light on to this far-too-often ignored slice of Asia.
Craig Scanlan has 82 post(s) on Asia Security Watch