South Korea declared the F-35A the winner of its F-X fighter competition, becoming the Lightning II’s third foreign military sale customer alongside Israel and Japan, Lockheed Martin announced on Monday. “We are honored by and appreciate the trust and confidence the Republic of Korea has placed in the fifth generation F-35 to meet its demanding security requirements,” said Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Executive Vice President Orlando Carvalho in a March 24 release. The F-35 beat out both the Eurofighter EF-2000 and Boeing’s F-15SE “Silent Eagle” after the Republic of Korea Air Force relaunched the F-X competition last summer. “This decision strengthens and extends our long-standing security partnership while enhancing regional stability across the greater Asia-Pacific theater,” added Carvalho. South Korea is seeking to buy 60 F-35s under a proposed $10.8 billion package, including training, support, and parts, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. Korea is looking to replace its elderly F-4 and F-5s with an indigenously produced aircraft under the separate KF-X competition.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.