South Korea has offered to buy a significant quantity of Israeli-made weapons and defense systems, including the anti-rocket Iron Dome system, if Israel agrees to purchase South Korean fighter jets.
The Israel Air Force is looking to replace its aging fleet of American-made A-4 Skyhawk jets, which are used to train fighter pilots. The two alternatives being considered are the Korean-made T-50 Golden Eagle and Italy's M-346 Master.
The defense industries of South Korea and Italy are locked in a fierce competition for the contract, worth approximately $1 billion. Last week, the Israel Air Force recommended purchasing the Italian planes.
The final decision, however, will be made by the Defense Ministry, and one of the considerations which will be taken into account is the value of reciprocal deals with Israel's defense industry.
Italy has proposed a reciprocal deal, under which it would purchase some $1 billion of defense equipment, including satellites, from Israel.
In response, Korea proposed a deal potentially worth $1.6 billion, which would include the purchase of Israeli-made radar systems, as well as contracts for upgrading helicopters and Hercules aircraft.
In recent weeks, the South Korean Defense Procurement Agency made an additional offer. While the new offer does not specify a price, it does include a number of additional deals, including the Iron Dome system.
The new offer also includes cooperation on a number of other projects, including the conversion of refueling jets, development of a Korean-made fighter jet and a helicopter and satellites.
A final decision on the deal is expected within the next few weeks.
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