South Korea requests additional F-35s

RoKAF F-35
RoKAF's Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter

The US State Department has approved a possible deal of up to 25 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters to South Korea under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) mechanism, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced on 13 September.

According to DSCA, Seoul has requested up to 25 conventional take-off and landing F-35 aircraft, up to 26 Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-100 engines – with 25 installed and a spare – as well as associated equipment worth around US$5.06 billion.

The proposed sale also includes the F-35 Block 4 upgrade, along with major modifications, maintenance, and maintenance support.

Other equipment include AN/PYQ-10 Simple Key Loaders (SKL), KIV-78 Cryptographic Appliques, and Electronic Warfare (EW) Reprogramming Lab support.

DSCA stated that the proposed sale “will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a major ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific region”.

“The proposed sale will augment Korea’s operational aircraft inventory and enhance its air-to-air and air-to-ground self-defense capability. [South] Korea already has F-35s in its inventory and will have no difficulty absorbing these articles and services into its armed forces,” it added, noting that the effort will enhance South Korea’s ability to meet current and future threats while ensuring interoperability with US forces.

South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) earlier announced in July 2022 that it had intended to procure around 20 additional F-35s for the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) between 2023 and 2028.

by Jr Ng