A consortium of Lockheed Martin and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) submitted a proposal Thursday to bid on a $16 billion (18 trillion won) jet project by the United States Air Force.
"Lockheed Martin submitted its final proposal at 3:35 p.m. on Wednesday (local time) to the U.S. Air Force. Nothing specific has been confirmed over the upcoming schedules regarding the bid," the Korean aircraft manufacturer said.
The project is aimed at replacing the U.S. Air Force's outdated pilot training jets, T-38Cs, with new aircraft. The T-50A jet trainer from the Lockheed-KAI consortium is competing against BTX-1 of the Boeing-Saab consortium.
KAI hopes to win the bid as it will help the company widen its global presence at a time when the company is seeking to expand business into new territories. In recent years, the company has gone all-out to sell its Surion helicopters to other countries, as part of its efforts to become a top-tier aircraft and aerospace parts manufacturer.
No details have been unveiled about the specific profit-sharing between Lockheed Martin and KAI, but the latest bid is expected to become a golden opportunity for KAI to win more orders from the U.S. military and others overseas.
"We are pinning our hopes on winning the bid," an official from the company said. "As the consortium submitted its best and final offer to the U.S. Air Force, we only have to wait for the final decision."
It remains unknown when the U.S. Air Force will make its final decision, but expectations are that the U.S. government can decide on the final bidder before the end of its 2018 fiscal year on Sept. 30.
The Lockheed-KAI consortium believes the latest bid will help expand its sales channels and serve as momentum to win orders for thousands of more T-50A jets in countries other than the U.S.
If the consortium wins the ongoing bid, it will supply 350 T-50A aircraft to the U.S. military. The T-50A advanced trainer ― co-developed by KAI and Lockheed Martin ― is an updated version of the T-50 supersonic jet. KAI has decade-long knowhow in manufacturing the T-50 jet, and has exported the aircraft to major Asian markets ― such as the Philippines.
"By winning the bid, our global drive will gain further momentum and help us expand our revenue stream in a more stable way," said a company official.