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South Korea to Buy F-35s

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The South Korean government has announced yesterday that they will be purchasing 40 of Lockheed Martin’s Marine Corp F-35 fighter jets which will help the country modernize and strengthen their again air defense fleet. In recent months there have been some questions raised about the overall safety of the F-35s which have caused some nations to either ground their current fleet or pass over the purchase of the aircraft all together. The South Korean government has announced their decision and is standing behind their commitment to the purchase of 40 brand new fighter jets. The deal is worth about 7.6 billion dollars or about 7.34 trillion won.

Lockheed Martin’s F-35F-35 1

South Korea has become the 10th country to choose the F-35 fighter jet as a suitable replacement for the modernization of their current fighter jet fleet. The F-35 is a single engine fighter jet that is capable of aspect of stealth given the plane a clear advantage over that of its Boeing counterpart the F-15. The country is trying to strengthen their aging air defense fleet which has become almost decrepit in recent years. The goal in all of this is to remain in a clear advantage over their aggressive neighbor North Korean. The South Korean government has chosen to go with the F-35 despite the issues and possible defects that have been reported with the plane in recent months. There have been concerns with the plane’s engine to fail or catch on fire which has caused in rare cases the aircraft to fall out of the sky. In June of this year the problem hit an all time high and caused the entire U.S. fleet of F-35s to be grounded until the issues were fixed. South Korean government investigations found that the reported issues were both isolated and non-occurring in the bulk of the production models. Both internal company investigations and governmental investigations have concluded that the F-35s were not subject to failure in safety or operation, a result that has given the South Korean government a sort of assurance since there hasn’t been an fluctuation in price for the aircraft as well.

The Purchase Deal

The purchase deal between the South Korean government and Lockheed Martin is still relatively new. The terms of the deal have not been entirely laid out in public view due to the short while ago of announcement. However the company has released that they will be selling the South Korean government 40 brand new F-35 fighter jets and have set delivery of these jets to be between 2018 and 2021. Earlier last year the South Korean government retracted their initial purchase deal in which the government had wanted to purchase a total of 60 new fighter jets. The original deal would have cost the country 8.3 trillion won but the country decided that 40 brand new F-35’s were better suited than adding on the additional 20 F-15 that are manufactured by Boeing. But the decision for South Korea to choose the F-35s was a bit of a shocker because the Boeing F-15 Euro fighters were typically the more likely choice which would have replaced the existing F-4 and F-5 fighter fleet. All of the jets will be built in the U.S. and then shipped over to South Korea. Lockheed Martin has even offered the country the option to have the company service the planes either in the U.S. or to send over representatives to train the South Koreans how to maintain the planes.

F-35 2On Wednesday a representative from the South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration stated “We have agreed to acquire 40 jets within the total budget and reflect all the terms negotiated during the 2013 competition.” Orlando Carvalho who is the executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics has said “We are honored by and appreciate the trust and confidence the Republic of Korea has placed in the 5th generation F-35 to meet its demanding security requirements. This decision strengthens and extends our longstanding security partnership while enhancing regional stability across the greater Asia Pacific Theater.” If the deal ends up going through without any issues this could be the first of several deliveries for South Asian Pacific countries such as Japan and Taiwan. Soon the South Korean government and the U.S. government will begin price and offset negotiations. The company expects to have the finalized note of price and delivery signed by both governments and the company by the summer.

The addition of the F-35s to the South Korean air force is a great step in regional security as well as long term profits for Lockheed Martin. As world tensions grow between North Korea and Russia the need for regional and global security becomes ever more needed. The newer fighter jets will help upgrade the aging South Korean fleet while solidifying the increased revenue for Lockheed Martin in future business endeavors in the South Asia Pacific Theater.


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