BERLIN, Jan 26 (Reuters) - The German Defence Ministry on Thursday said it would skip an open tender for the planned purchase of five more corvettes valued at 1.5 billion euros and instead ask the three-company consortium that built the existing warships to submit a bid.
"The defence ministry has decided to ask the ARGE K130 consortium to bid for procurement of five additional, nearly identical ships," a ministry spokesman said.
German lawmakers have criticised the ministry's plans to skip a competition, saying it violated basic procurement principles mapped out by Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen.
The ARGE K130 group that built the first five Braunschweig-class corvettes was led by Blohm + Voss GmbH, a Hamburg-based shipyard, with participation of two other shipyards, Friedrich Luerssen Werft in Bremen and SIAG Nordseewerke GmbH.
German lawmakers in October announced plans to spend 1.5 billion euros to buy five more of the ships to bolster security in the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean.
Von der Leyen launched reforms to improve the transparency of the military's procurement process shortly after taking over as defence minister in December 2013, following a series of scandals and problems with earlier weapons programmes.
Two of the biggest programmes launched since then have run into delays as they navigate the more rigorous process.
The ministry has delayed a 4 billion euro procurement of new multi-role ships by six months, and a bid to build a new medium-range missile defence system came in billions of euros over expected levels, which will likely also cause delays. .
(Reporting by Sabine Siebold, Writing by Andrea Shalal, Editing by Angus MacSwan)