The Republic of Korea has formally selected the F-35A version of the Joint Strike Fighter as the winner of its F-X fighter competition, and will soon sign letters of offer and acceptance with the US government for 40 of the aircraft, to be delivered starting in 2018, announced manufacturer Lockheed Martin on Wednesday. The value of the deal was not immediately released, but is expected to be in excess of $7 billion. The choice brings the number of countries that will operate the F-35 to 12; Israel and Japan have previously signed up as Foreign Military Sales customers for the jet, joining the US and eight countries partnered in its development. An ROK statement said the jet prevailed following negotiations over “technical conditions, price, and offset,” the latter being F-35 production work to be done by Korean companies. The ROK previously selected 60 Boeing F-15SE “Silent Eagles” for the F-X competition but backpedaled earlier this year, effectively re-opening the contest and allowing Lockheed Martin to quote prices reflecting lower costs on recent production lots. JSF program leader Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said “this is a good day for the F-35 and we look forward to working with” the ROK government.
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.