South Korea’s Board of Audit and Inspection(BAI) is scrutinizing the KF-X procurement project carried out under the former Park Geun-hye administration.
In April, BAI has sent inspectors to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) to launch an audit into the project to acquire next-generation fighter jets for the country, The Korea Times reported Friday.
The DAPA signed a 7.3 trillion won, or 6.5 billion dollar, deal with Lockheed Martin in 2014 to buy 40 F-35A fighter jets. Under the deal, the US firm would transfer 25 technologies required for the development of South Korea’s locally-made fighter jet, the KF-X.
However, Lockheed Martin refused to transfer four core technologies related to the fighter jet, including active electronically scanned array(AESA) radars, forcing the South Korean military to develop the AESA radar system on its own.
The BAI is suspicious that the expensive project had been carried out improperly, wasting taxpayers’ money and impeding the South Korean Air Force’s augmentation program.
“The audit was launched before the inauguration of the Moon Jae-in administration and has nothing to do with the new government,” the BAI official said..
However, the military leadership and those involved in the procurement project were known to be on the watch for the inspection given the Moon administration’s assurance to end corruption regarding military procurement.
The audit into the fighter jet procurement project is also being carried out as the government is probing military officials after they failed to report to President Moon about the delivery of four additional THAAD launchers.
In September of 2013, the DAPA voted against Boeing’s F-15 Silent Eagle, which was a sole candidate for the KF-X program, during the final bidding procedure and named Lockheed Martin’s F-35 A as the successful bidder the following year.
The decision to choose Lockheed Martin over Boeing as the sole supplier for the KF-X project was made under then Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, who until recently served as national security adviser for the Park administration.