Oct. 30 (UPI) -- South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries has been named as the preferred bidder for a domestically developed next-generation destroyer, but the decision comes after a contentious court ruling.
Seoul's Defense Acquisition Program Administration said Friday the Seoul Central District Court rejected an application from Hyundai rival Daewoo Shipbuilding, and the plan is to go ahead, Yonhap and Hankook Ilbo reported Friday. Daewoo had filed a court injunction against the project.
Hyundai has been at the center of a probable leak of classified military information, with South Korean officials suspected of passing on the data to Hyundai. The Seoul court determined the stolen military secrets were not used in the bid. DAPA said Friday it is "unclear" if Hyundai used the information "that it allegedly acquired illegally," according to Yonhap.
The Korea Destroyer Next Generation project, KDDX, is the $17.6 million plan to build a next-generation 6,000-ton "mini Aegis-class" destroyer. DAPA wants the design completed by the second half of 2023 and construction to begin in 2024, reports say.
The South Korean procurement agency said Hyundai could be affected if its employees are convicted at a later date of involving themselves in the illegal leak of classified data. At that point, Hyundai could undergo a review, DAPA said.
Seoul's decision to move forward with KDDX comes at a time when the government seeks to cover blind spots in aerial surveillance coverage. Korea has grown increasingly concerned over incursions of Russian and Chinese aircraft into its Korean Air Defense Identification Zone.
DAPA said Thursday it has been discussing interoperability improvements to Link 16, a military tactical data link network, as it relates to augmentations to its aircraft with the local designation E-737, part of its $1.6 billion Peace Eye project, according to news service Seoul Pyongyang News.
The performance improvements are expected to require about $430 million in investments until 2025, according to the report.