March 14, 2023 09:56
South Korea on Monday decided to buy another 20 cutting-edge F-35A stealth fighter jets from the U.S. It also wants to buy SM-6 ship-to-air missiles that are capable of intercepting North Korean ballistic and cruise missiles besides developing interceptor missiles on its own.
The decision came amid an unprecedented flurry of missile launches by North Korea this year.
In a meeting Monday, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration approved five weapons purchases worth a total of W7.31 trillion, including the next-generation fighter jets and ship-to-air missiles (US$1=W1,302).
The budget for the F-35As is about W3.75 trillion by 2028, bringing the total number to about 60. In March 2019, when the first batch was delivered, each cost about US$100 million, but the new budget reflects inflation and upgrade costs.
The jets will "prop up the country's 'kill chain' preemptive strike system against the North's nuclear and missile threats," a DAPA official said. "They will also reduce the void in combat preparedness caused by decommissioning old fighter jets."
Another W770 billion will be spent on the SM-6 missiles from 2023 to 2031. The missiles are needed for South Korean Navy destroyers, which lack adequate defenses against ballistic missiles despite being equipped with state-of-the-art radar.
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