The U.S. Department of State approved a possible sale of 25 F-35 fighter jets and the stealth jets’ related equipment for an estimated cost of $5.06 billion, a U.S. defense agency said Wednesday.
The Korean Air Force currently operates 40 F-35As at the 17th Fighter Wing in Cheongju, North Chungcheong.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) under the Defense Department said in a statement that the potential foreign military sale will enhance Korea’s “capability to meet current and future threats by providing credible defense capability to deter aggression in the region and ensure interoperability with U.S. forces.”
The possible deal includes 25 F-35A jets, 26 F135 engines used in F-35 aircraft and other logistical and technical assistance, including electronic warfare reprogramming support, classified software delivery and equipment maintenance.
“Korea already has F-35s in its inventory and will have no difficulty absorbing these articles and services into its armed forces,” the DSCA said.
The Korean Air Force began operating F-35 jets in December 2019.
The U.S. security program agency added that the proposed sale will not alter the military balance in the region.
Korea has been pushing to bring in new batches of fifth-generation fighter jets to replace the outdated F-4 and F-5 jets to strengthen its so-called “Kill Chain” preemptive strike system.
Korea’s Defense Project Promotion Committee in March approved plans to spend 3.75 trillion won ($2.82 billion) on purchasing the F-35 jets through 2028.
BY SOHN DONG-JOO [email@example.com]