South Korea has finalized a contract with Lockheed Martin to purchase 20 more F-35A fighters, adding to the 40 aircraft it acquired between 2019 and 2022.
The Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration greenlit the acquisition three months after obtaining clearance from the U.S. Department of State in September, paving the way for the Asian country to increase its existing fleet of fifth-generation combat planes, state media reported.
According to DAPA, Lockheed will start delivering the F-35s in 2027. The aircraft will ship with an updated configuration, including enhanced arms operational capabilities and security features.
South Korea is investing more in the F-35A jet for its high-performance radar and stealth capabilities. The fighters enable the country to carry out long-range strategic missions without being detected, DAPA said.
Particularly, the fighter jets will bolster Seoul’s response capabilities against North Korea’s growing military threats.
In March 2023, South Korea requested to buy the additional F-35s for around $2.9 billion. Seoul said the incoming aircraft will replace some of its earlier units that are undergoing maintenance.