South Korea expects to receive the first two F-35A stealth fighter jets ordered from the U.S. planemaker in March 2019, according to the Korean Times.
“Two F-35As out of 10, which the Air Force will receive this year, will arrive in South Korea by the end of March. They will be deployed by around April or May,” a source familiar with the matter said.
The source said two aircraft will arrive every month and up to 10 stealth fighters will be handed over by the end of the year. The Air Force will possibly complete their deployment during the same time. By the end of 2018, the Air Force had taken over six F-35As for training at Arizona’s Luke Air Force Base in the U.S.
Each aircraft is reportedly priced at around 120 billion won (US$112 million).
Defense officials early said the production of the fifth-generation F-35A Lightning II represents a milestone in South Korea’s combat readiness.
Adding to the Air Force’s existing fleet of F-15Ks and F-16s, the F-35As are expected to play a key role in the Republic of South Korean Air Force (RoKAF) .
The first F-35A stealth fighter aircraft for South Korea made its public debut last year in the United States. South Korea and the U.S. held a joint rollout ceremony for the plane at Lockheed Martin’s assembly line in Fort Worth, Texas in March.
From the end of 2017, South Korean fighter pilots were dispatched to the U.S. to receive flight training for the jets. The first solo mission was flown in July last year.