20 More F-35As For South Korea

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South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced a signed contract with the United States earlier in December to procure an additional 20 units of Lockheed Martin F-35A stealth fighters to reinforce response capabilities towards North Korean military threats.

With 39 units of the 40 F-35As purchased by the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) in active service, the new batch of 20 would be delivered from 2027 onwards and is said to feature heightened operational capabilities and security features in comparison to the ones currently in ROKAF inventory. The letter of acceptance for an unspecified amount was signed on Dec 8 after Washington’s approval in September.

South Korea hopes that this procurement would further bolster the military’s “three-axis” defence system comprising the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation, the Kill Chain pre-emptive strike platform, and the Korea Air and Missile Defense system.

In another development, DAPA handed over the first all-new Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) TA-50 Block 2 trainer jet to the ROKAF, it is the first of 20 TA-50 Block 2s in a USD771.8 million contract and expected for delivery through 2026. According to DAPA, the Block 2 has lighting that enables the use of night vision equipment and has a better joint direct attack munition (JDAM) capability. shp/adj/dl (Pix:ROK Air Force)