SEOUL, Oct. 10 (Yonhap) -- A total of 26 F-35A stealth fighter jets are scheduled to arrive in South Korea by the end of next year, the Air Force said Thursday.
South Korea has so far brought in eight F-35As, beginning with two in late March, under a plan to deploy 40 fifth-generation jets through 2021. Five more are set to arrive here by the end of this year, and the additional 14 jets will be delivered next year, according to the Air Force.
"For its operational deployment, we are now carrying out related processes such as training pilots and maintenance technicians and the construction of facilities and relevant systems," the Air Force said in a report submitted to lawmakers for its audit.
The date of full deployment is yet not decided, according to officers.
As a centerpiece of the country's strategic targeting scheme against potential enemy forces, the radar-evading warplane is expected to boost operational capabilities and strengthen the readiness posture against threats from all directions, according to the officers.
The fighters can fly at a top speed of Mach 1.8 and carry top-of-the-line weapons systems such as joint direct attack munitions, they added.
Earlier this month, the Air Force officially marked the introduction of the new weapons during Armed Forces Day ceremony for the first time.
Lashing out at South Korea for its introduction of advanced weapons, North Korea has carried out major weapons tests in recent months, including of short-range ballistic missiles and a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).
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