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US authorizes potential sale to S. Korea of munitions, equipment for F-35 stealth jets

Dec. 2, 2023 - 11:01 By Yonhap
A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B stealth fighter lands at the U.S. Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, on Oct. 30, as South Korea and the United States launched the five-day Vigilant Defense 24, a joint large-scale aerial exercise involving stealth fighter jets, to enhance combined operational capabilities against North Korean military threats. (Newsis)

The United States has approved a potential sale to South Korea of munitions for the operation of F-35 radar-evading fighter jets and related equipment to help improve the Asian ally's defense capabilities, a government agency said Friday.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency under the Department of Defense made the announcement on the potential government-to-government Foreign Military Sale (FMS) estimated to cost US$271 million.

South Korea has made a request to purchase 39 AIM-120C-8 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles, 88 KMU-556 Tail Kits for the GBU-31v1 Joint Direct-Attack Munition and 86 Mk-84 General Purpose 2000-lb bombs for the GBU-31v1 JDAM among other weapons and supplies.

"This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a major ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific region," DSCA said in a press release.

"The proposed sale will improve the Republic of Korea's capability to meet current and future threats by providing its fighter fleet with a range of air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions to deter aggression in the region and ensure interoperability with U.S. forces," it added.

DSCA delivered the required certification notifying Congress of the possible sale earlier in the day as the sale requires congressional endorsement.

South Korea's Air Force operates a fleet of 40 F-35A fighters. It has recently decided to retire one of them as the aircraft was damaged by a bird strike in January last year. (Yonhap)