South Korea displayed some of its recently acquired Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters for the first time during an event to mark the 71th anniversary of the country’s Armed Forces Day on 1 October.
A total of four Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) F-35s were displayed at the event, which was held at the Daegu Air Base in North Gyeongsang Province and presided over by South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
South Korea has so far received eight of the 40 conventional take-off and landing F-35As its plans to acquire by 2021 as part of a KRW7.3 trillion (USD6.5 billion) deal approved in September 2014.
By the end of 2019, the RoKAF is expected to field 13 of these fighters and is reviewing an option to buy 20 more units, according to the Yonhap News Agency.
Cheongju Air Base is the designated main operational airbase for the type.
Seoul’s introduction of the F-35 has been heavily criticised by Pyongyang, with North Korean officials stating on 10 July that the acquisition of these aircraft is an “extremely dangerous action which will trigger our reaction” and will force North Korea to develop and test “special armaments” to destroy the new aircraft.