At the end of the year, the US sold 20 ‘unforeseen’ F-35 aircraft

South Korea has recently agreed to acquire additional F-35A fighter jets from the United States. This decision comes as the country prepares to scale up its defense measures due to the increasing military threats from North Korea, as reported by the country’s Defense Acquisition Agency [DAPA] via Yonhap News. 

F-35 fighter jet by Lockheed Martin
Photo by Mikaela Maschmeier

The agreement finalizing this purchase of 20 F-35A fighter jets from Lockheed Martin, a premier defense and aerospace company in the US, was signed on December 8. These specific aircraft are known for their high-performance radar and superior defense capabilities, offering an enhancement over the existing fleet in South Korea. 

The delivery process of these high-end fighter jets is set to commence in 2027, according to an official statement. This is not the first time South Korea has increased its aircraft fleet – it previously acquired 40 F-35As between 2019 and 2022. However, one of these machines sadly had to be retired following a severe bird strike incident.

US approves F-35A sale

The U.S. State Department has reportedly given its stamp of approval for a multimillion-dollar deal with South Korea. According to a statement published by the Defense Security and Cooperation Agency [DSCA] in September, the transaction involves the sale of up to 25 F-35A fighter jets, an additional 26 aircraft, and auxiliary items such as ammunition, support equipment, and personnel training.

The total value of the deal is estimated at approximately $5.06 billion and includes the notable inclusion of the F-135-PW-100 engine. This development marks a significant milestone in the ongoing defense cooperation between the two countries.

Norway: We don't have enough mechanics to support the 52 F-35s
Photo by Monica White Martinsen / NRK

F-35A

Initially, the F-35 was constructed in three different versions – F-35A, F-35B, and F-35C. The F-35A is a land-based version with conventional take-off and landing [CTOL], the F-35B is a versatile version with short take-off and vertical landing [STOVL], fit for land or aircraft carriers, and the F-35C is a carrier-based version using Catapult Assisted Take-Off Barrier Arrested Recovery [CATOBAR]. Following these, customized versions have been developed for countries like Israel and Canada. 

Designed mainly for the U.S. Air Force and other similar entities, the F-35A variant stands out for being the lightest and smallest among the three. This variant, apart from being compact, is known for its superior ability to pull 9 g, an acceleration measure, which is the maximum among all the F-35 variants. 

While the F-35A operates aerial refueling via a boom and receptacle method, it can undergo modifications to support a probe-and-drogue refueling method if the user requires it. There is also an option to install a drag chute pod on the F-35A. The Royal Norwegian Air Force was the first to utilize this feature.

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