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No hype expected for S. Korea's first F-35A stealth jet

All Headlines 10:10 March 17, 2018

SEOUL, March 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korea appears to be seeking a low-key ceremony to celebrate the rollout of the first F-35A stealth fighter aircraft for its military amid a mood of detente on the peninsula and suspicions of possible corruption related to the deal with Lockheed Martin, defense sources said Saturday.

The Air Force plans to send Lt. Gen. Lee Sung-yong, deputy chief of staff, to the event to be held at the firm's assembly line in Fort Worth, Texas, on March 28. Initially, the Air Force chief Gen. Lee Wang-keun was expected to attend it.

Jeon Jei-guk, head of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), will be absent from the ceremony as well due to a scheduling conflict, according to the state arms agency.

DAPA also canceled a plan to invite South Korean reporters based in Seoul to the ceremony.

A photo provided by Lockheed Martin of an F-35A (Yonhap)

A source cited a recent shift in the security condition, with the leaders of South and North Korea scheduled to hold summit talks next month. U.S. President Donald Trump also agreed to sit down with the North's leader Kim Jong-un by May.

It represents a sharp contrast to rising military tensions last year.

Furthermore, many people suspect there might have been bribery and corruption in connection with the contract with Lockheed under the previous administration of Park Geun-hye, who was ousted and arrested.

In 2014, South Korea signed the agreement to purchase 40 F-35As.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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