South Korea expands air force fleet with additional F-35A stealth fighters

By Defence Industry Europe

The South Korean Defence Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has officially confirmed the acquisition of 20 F-35A stealth fighter jets. The announcement on December 27, 2023, follows the approval by the US government in September 2023 for the purchase of these advanced aircraft, produced by Lockheed Martin.


This acquisition is part of South Korea’s ongoing efforts to strengthen its military capabilities.

The new F-35As are scheduled to be integrated into the South Korean Air Force (ROKAF) starting in 2027. These aircraft will join the existing fleet of 39 F-35As, significantly bolstering ROKAF’s aerial strength.




DAPA highlights that the newly acquired F-35As will have superior weapons operation and enhanced security features compared to the earlier versions.

This improvement is in line with South Korea’s three-axis defence strategy, which consists of the Korea Massive Punishment & Retaliation (KMPR) system, the Kill Chain preemptive strike system, and the Korea Air and Missile Defence (KAMD) anti-missile shield.

The addition of these state-of-the-art fighters is expected to play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of power in the Korean Peninsula, particularly in response to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.

“The F-35A is a key force in shaping the Korean three-axis system as a game-changer,” stated a DAPA representative, emphasizing the aircraft’s significance in national defence and regional stability.



The first batch of F-35As, delivered between 2019 and 2022, marked a significant enhancement in South Korea’s defence capabilities.

The upcoming second batch promises further advancements in performance, including improved threat response, encryption/security functions, and armed operation capabilities.

This strategic move reiterates South Korea’s commitment to maintaining a robust defence posture in the face of evolving regional challenges.




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