South Korea formally took delivery of its first F-35A stealth fighter jet on Wednesday in a rollout ceremony at Lockheed Martin’s plant in Texas.
UPI says that South Korea’s military purchased forty of the fifth-generation warplanes in 2014, in a $7 billion deal.
The F-35A is the standard take off version of the advanced US fighter. It is the first jet in South Korea’s arsenal capable of evading radar detection. The plane is expected to play a critical role in Seoul’s “Kill Chain” system against North Korea. The Kill Chain strategy is designed to launch pre-emptive strikes on North Korea upon detecting an imminent missile attack.
The warplane is capable of infiltrating North Korea’s elaborate air defense network to target missile launch sites and factories as well as Kim Jong-un’s residence, Chosun Ilbo reported.
UPI says the just-delivered F-35A will be used to train South Korean pilots and maintenance staff at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona before it is delivered to Cheongju Air Base in South Korea in the first half of 2019.
The rest of the F-35As will be delivered over the next three to four years, by 2021.