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S. Korea begins procedures to introduce F-35B fighters for light aircraft carrier

Defense 15:13 August 05, 2020

SEOUL, Aug. 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has begun procedures to determine the number of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) jets to purchase for its envisioned light aircraft carrier to be deployed by 2033, a government source said Wednesday.

The exact type of the VTOL aircraft to be deployed has yet to be decided, but it is likely to be the F-35B, which is the only model that meets South Korea's requirement that it have stealth capability.

The number of the aircraft to be introduced is expected to hover around 20.

"The number of VTOL necessary, the plan for acquisition and the exact type of the aircraft will be specified in line with the schedule to build the landing platform helicopter ship," the official said.

The envisioned aircraft carrier will be the third landing platform helicopter ship South Korea deploys following the Dokdo and Marado ships.

F-35Bs, currently deployed by the U.S. Marine Corps, are said to be more expensive than the conventional takeoff and landing F-35As, both produced by Lockheed Martin.

South Korea began bringing in the F-35A fighter jets last year to beef up reconnaissance capabilities under a plan to deploy 40 units through 2021.

In this file photo taken on Dec. 6, 2017, and provided by the Air Force, a B-1B Lancer strategic bomber, two F-35A and two F-35B stealth jets of the U.S. and two F-16K and two F-15K fighters of South Korea fly in formation over the Korean Peninsula during the annual joint Korea-U.S. air force drill Vigilant Ace. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


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