South Korea, a traditional consumer of U.S. military hardware, is considering the Russian-made Sukhoi Su-35 as its next-generation fighter jet.
Defense Ministry officials said Thursday that the Su-35, Russia’s most modern fighter, could compete with American F-15s when they make their purchase.
South Korea already has a $5.2 billion program under way to buy 120 American F-16s by 2000.
One ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, cited “diversification” as a reason for considering the Su-35.
He said South Korea also is interested in Russian electronic air defense systems.
Since establishing formal diplomatic relations with Seoul in 1990, Russia has shown keen interest in South Korea’s growing arms import demand.