The US approved the sale of as many as 25 F-35 fighter jets to South Korea, a major weapons offer to a key regional ally after a summit aimed at expressing unity in the face of China’s growing assertiveness.
(Bloomberg) — The US approved the sale of as many as 25 F-35 fighter jets to South Korea, a major weapons offer to a key regional ally after a summit aimed at expressing unity in the face of China’s growing assertiveness.
The package, valued at as much as $5.06 billion, requires congressional approval and could take years to complete. Under the deal, South Korea would get Lockheed Martin Corp.’s premier fighter aircraft along with engines, communications gear and support.
The sale will “augment Korea’s operational aircraft inventory and enhance its air-to-air and air-to-ground self-defense capability,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said. “Korea already has F-35s in its inventory and will have no difficulty absorbing these articles and services into its armed forces.”
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While South Korea had indicated for some time that it wanted more F-35’s, the proposed sale comes less than a month after President Joe Biden met the South Korean and Japanese leaders for a landmark summit at Camp David. The three agreed to new steps to counter North Korea and pushed efforts to ease the risk they said China poses to global supply chains.
Global interest in the F-35 has soared because of the Ukraine conflict and increased tensions with China. The Czech Republic got approval for an almost identical offer in June, and two US Air Force F-35 units have flown deterrence patrols in Europe. At least 12 military services worldwide have declared the F-35 operational.
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