Airbus is to offer its C295 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) to the Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN), the company confirmed to Jane’s on 15 May.

In bidding for the USD1.8 billion programme, Airbus is looking to compete against Boeing, which is offering its P-8 Poseidon MPA, and Saab, which is proposing its Swordfish MPA.

Airbus is positioning the C295 MPA variant, seen here in Chilean colours, for the South Korea Navy's MPA and ASW requirement. (Airbus)Airbus is positioning the C295 MPA variant, seen here in Chilean colours, for the South Korea Navy’s MPA and ASW requirement. (Airbus)

An Airbus spokesperson said, “The Airbus C295 MPA/ASW [anti-submarine warfare] offers the best combination of operational capabilities and value and is the ideal solution for South Korea’s requirements.”

He added, “We would welcome an opportunity to participate in an open tender to meet South Korea’s MPA and anti-submarine warfare requirements.”

The RoKN requirement is expected to initially feature the acquisition of six MPAs. However, the programme could expand significantly in the future when the RoKN retires its 16 Lockheed Martin P-3 MPAs, which have been in service since the mid-1990s.

While South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) confirmed in February that it intends to procure the MPA capability from a foreign supplier, the procurement agency has not yet identified the acquisition method. A decision on this is expected soon.

Two routes are possible: procurement through the US government’s Foreign Military Sale (FMS) mechanism, which will automatically favour Boeing; or an open tender through which Boeing, Airbus and Saab will compete.

The C295 MPA is currently operated by Brazil, Chile, Oman, and Portugal, with Chile also operating some its aircraft for ASW missions. The C295 MPA has also been ordered by Canada and one additional undisclosed customer.

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