South Korea reportedly looking to buy additional F-35s

21 December 2017
South Korea is considering purchasing additional Lockheed Martin F-35A aircraft. Source: IHS Markit/Patrick Allen

The Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) is planning to acquire 20 additional Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft, the Joongang Ilbo newspaper reported on 21 December.

Citing sources, the report said South Korea’s Defense Agency of Technology and Quality (DTaQ), a body under the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), will undertake a preliminary study to support the next phase of the RoKAF’s next-generation fighter aircraft programme.

Under the last phase, concluded in 2014, the RoKAF ordered 40 F-35As for KRW7.3 trillion (USD6.7 billion), with these aircraft scheduled to be delivered to South Korea from 2018.

According to the report, the DTaQ study will assess overseas fighter aircraft development trends, business promotion methods, and acquisition plans. It added that the plan features the acquisition of 20 aircraft with stealth capability, which is required to enable the RoKAF to attack major facilities in North Korea, it said. Citing sources, the report said the F-35A is the only aircraft that meets the RoKAF’s requirements.

At the time of publication DAPA’s spokesperson had not responded to Jane’s questions on the matter.

Upon its launch in 2012, the RoKAF’s programme to procure a “next-generation fighter aircraft” to replace its Northrop F-5E and McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II combat aircraft featured the proposed acquisition of 60 aircraft.

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