The Korea Times said the government will select within the year the winning bidder for the project, code named "E-X," which is aimed at fortifying South Korea's independent surveillance capability.
Maj. Gen. Won Jang-hwan, director of the ministry's acquisition policy bureau, told reporters: "We ought to have our own air surveillance radar aircraft to detect and track military movements of the enemy troops. The country's air power will stay alert and prepared even when our ground radar systems were destroyed."
South Korea has so far relied on U.S. spy planes based in Okinawa, Japan.
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]