South Korea buying 40 F-35A jets from Lockheed for $7 billion
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea is buying 40 F-35A fighter jets from Lockheed Martin to upgrade its aging fleet of aircraft and help counter the threat posed by North Korea, officials said Wednesday.
The approximately $7 billion acquisition from the Bethesda, Md.-based company marks South Korea’s single largest weapons purchase, said Paek Youn Hyeong, a spokesman for the South’s Defense Acquisitions Program Administration.
“The biggest reason for the purchase is that we need higher-performance aircraft,” he said.
South Korea announced its intent to sign a Letter of Offer and Acceptance with Lockheed Martin on Wednesday after several months of negotiation about the price. The aircraft will be delivered to the South between 2018 and 2021, Paek said.
The F-35A Lightning II is a fifth-generation fighter with advanced stealth technology and sustainment, according to Lockheed Martin.
The agreement makes South Korea the third Foreign Military Sales country to buy the F-35, along with Israel and Japan, which announced their purchases in 2010 and 2011, respectively, a company statement said.
The purchase of the fighter jets is designed to replace South Korea’s aging fleet of F-4 and F-5 fighter jets, South Korea’s Yonhap News reported.
Paek said Thursday that the DAPA has also finalized plans to produce 120 mid-sized, next-generation fighter jets at the cost of approximately $8.5 billion. The upgraded aircraft will be deployed beginning in 2025, he said.