Dassault to Decline S. Korean Bids
By SOO-JEONG LEE
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday June 5, 10:20 am Eastern Time
French Aircraft Maker Says It Will Skip Future Defense Bids in South Korea
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — After losing a bid to U.S. aircraft maker Boeing Co., France's Dassault Aviation (Other OTC:DUAVF.PK - News) SA said Wednesday that it would not take part in any more defense biddings organized by South Korea.
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Dassault has accused South Korea's Defense Ministry of unfairly favoring Boeing when it awarded a multibillion-dollar order for fighter jets to the U.S. aircraft maker in April.
"We have every reason to believe that the Korean defense market is the private hunting ground of the U.S. defense industry," said Yves Robins, vice president of international relations at Dassault.
"We shall not participate" in any bidding for South Korean defense contracts as long as the United States retains a virtual monopoly on bids, Robins said. He accused South Korea of using Dassault as a bargaining chip in talks with Boeing.
Dassault's Rafale and Boeing's F-15K aircraft were the top contenders for a contract to build 40 F-15K fighter jets for the South Korean air force by 2009. Boeing, the winner, is expected to sign a $4.2 billion deal this month.
South Korea hosts 37,000 U.S. soldiers to guard against North Korea, and has close ties with the U.S. Defense Department.
In April, Dassault had filed a lawsuit in an attempt to freeze bidding on the project. Last week, a Seoul court rejected the suit, ruling that it could not find any "critical" error in the ministry's selection methods.
Robins said there were no immediate plans for further legal action, but did not rule it out.