South Korea To Buy 40 F-35As for $7 billion


SEOUL — South Korea has finalized a deal with the US government to buy 40 F-35As built by Lockheed Martin, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced Wednesday.

The country is the third to procure the F-35 through the Foreign Military Sales program, joining Israel and Japan, which finalized their deals in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

Under the deal, to be signed in coming weeks, South Korea will pay 7.34 trillion won (US $7 billion) for 40 F-35 conventional takeoff and landing aircraft, with initial delivery in 2018, according to the DAPA.

“We’ve finalized the deal to purchase 40 F-35As following six months of negotiations on price and offset conditions, including tech transfer,” DAPA spokesman Baek Yoon-hyung said.

“This decision strengthens and extends our long-standing security partnership and truly enhances the regional stability among our greater Asia Pacific allies,” said Orlando Carvalho, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics executive vice president, in a statement.

“As part of offset conditions, the US government agreed to dispatch hundreds of engineers to support the tech transfer,” the DAPA spokesman added.

South Korea redrew the terms of the fighter procurement “F-X” deal to buy 60 jets last year after dropping an option to buy Boeing’s F-15 Silent Eagle in favor of jets with stealth capabilities, later reducing the purchase to 40 aircraft.

The DAPA also announced plans to build an indigenous KF-X fighter aircraft.

Under the KF-X plan, South Korea will produce at least 120 aircraft with twin engines and high-end avionics systems by 2025 to replace the Air Force’s aging F-4s and F-5s.

A preferred bidder for the $8 billion development program will be announced in December. Korea Aerospace Industries and Korean Air’s military branch are to compete, according to sources.

The bidder will foot 20 percent of the development costs, while the Korean government and Indonesia are to fund 60 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

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