Aircraft procurement chief replaced ahead of key fighter jet program
Published : May 7, 2012 - 14:54
Updated : May 7, 2012 - 19:59
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration removed its chief aircraft procurement officer Monday after it was discovered that his brother represented a U.S. firm bidding for the Air Force fighter jet contract.

Air Force Brigadier General Kim Bo-keun was replaced as the chief of the DAPA division overseeing the FX-III program by Brigadier General Kim Yeon-hwan, who heads the Air Force Studies and Assessments Analysis Wing.

The reshuffle came only five months before the aircraft for the FX-III program is due to be selected.

The Ministry of National Defense maintains that the change is part of the recent general-level promotions.

Reports have emerged claiming that Cho had inappropriate close ties with a particular company bidding for the contract.

Brigadier Cho’s elder brother, a retired admiral-level officer in the Navy, is working for BAE Systems involved in producing Lockheed Martin’s F-35.

According to some reports, DAPA Commissioner Noh Dae-lae became aware of the situation at the end of last year but postponed replacing Cho until the military’s scheduled reshuffle to avoid a misunderstanding.

“The chief is due to be discharged at the end of the year, as such the decision was made because the program needs continuity after the purchase is made,” a DAPA official said.

“It is true that the chief’s elder brother is an adviser to BAE Systems, but reports that he had inappropriately close relations with a particular company are completely groundless. The measure is part of our efforts to maintain fairness in the selection process.”

The deadline for submitting the proposals for the FX-III program, under which the Korean Air Force will purchase 60 new fighter jets to replace F-4 and F-5 jets, is June 18. The DAPA will then conduct tests and negotiations with the companies before making the final decision in October. Competitors include Boeing, Lockheed Martin and the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co.

With a contract value of about 8.3 trillion won ($7.3 billion), the FX-III program is the largest single weapons acquisition program ever to be conducted in Korea.

By Choi He-suk (