South Korea has agreed to sign a letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) with the US Government to purchase F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighters.
In March, the South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (Dapa) selected F-35 aircraft for the Republic of Korea Air Force’s (ROKAF) F-X III fighter project, over the Boeing F-15 Silent Eagle and the Eurofighter Typhoon.
South Korea will buy 40 F-35A conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variant jets from Lockheed Martin at an estimated cost of KRW7.34tn ($7bn).
Deliveries are scheduled to start in 2018 and be completed by 2021.
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics executive vice-president Orlando Carvalho said: "This decision strengthens and extends our long-standing security partnership and truly enhances the regional stability among our greater Asia Pacific allies."
How well do you really know your competitors?
Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.
Your download email will arrive shortly
Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample
We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below formBy GlobalData
"We look forward to producing and delivering, on time and within budget, Korea’s F-35A conventional take-off and landing variant aircraft."
The deal also includes terms for technology transfers to help Seoul build its own advanced fighter aircraft.
Under development for the US Air Force, the F-35A features internal carriage and external stations for missiles and bombs. It is designed to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions with stealth capability.
Dapa selected the F-15 in September 2013, but re-tendered the contract the following month amidst concerns that the aircraft’s capabilities were insufficient to maintain a strategic advantage over North Korea.
The F-X fighter is scheduled to replace ROKAF’s ageing F-4 and F-5 fighter aircraft fleet.
The three F-35 variants, including the short take-off and vertical landing aircraft and carrier versions, are scheduled to replace USAF’s A-10 and F-16s, the US Navy’s F/A-18, US Marine Corps’ F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier, and a variety of fighter aircraft for at least ten foreign countries.
South Korea is the third country to confirm orders for the fighter after Israel and Japan.
Image: A F-35 Lightning II aircraft in flight. Photo: courtesy of © 2014 Lockheed Martin Corporation.