Wednesday, February 21, 2024

South Korea expands F-35A fighter fleet

South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration, or DAPA, has officially signed a deal to acquire 20 additional F-35A stealth jets.

This procurement, executed under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, builds upon South Korea’s previous acquisition of 40 F-35As in the program’s inaugural phase between 2019 and 2022, underscoring the nation’s commitment to enhancing its aerial combat capabilities.

However, South Korea’s Air Force recently made the decision to retire one stealth fighter due to substantial damage incurred from a bird strike in January 2022.


Set for delivery commencing in 2027, these newly acquired jets promise notable advancements in threat response capabilities, encryption, security functionalities, and armed operational capacities compared to their predecessors, according to DAPA sources.

The additional F-35As offer a 1.5-fold increase in internal armament capacity compared to earlier versions and possess the adaptability to be equipped with cutting-edge armaments such as laser-guided GBU-56 (L-JDAM) precision-guided bombs, further elevating their combat effectiveness.

“The F-35A stealth fighter, operational across our Air Force and in 17 other nations, boasts a proven high-performance record,” a DAPA official affirmed, underlining the aircraft’s widespread recognition as a cutting-edge platform.

DAPA further affirmed ongoing preparations for projects geared towards enhancing the performance capabilities of the F-35A aircraft procured in the program’s initial phase, emphasizing a continual commitment to evolving and optimizing these advanced fighter jets.

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Executive Editor

About author:

Gu Min Chul
Gu Min Chul
Gu Min Chul is a defense reporter who covers the Korean defense industry and all related issues.



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