By Bijan Razzaghi

The South Korean Air Force has taken delivery of the first of 40 F-35As planned to replace its Air Forces F-4s. The pilots will under go training at Eglin Air Force base in Florida before being combat ready. The F-35A will operate along side South Korea’s F-15K and F-16Cs. 

The F-35A is South Korea’s first low observable aircraft and is well suited for mitigating the threat posed by North Korea’s Air Defense Systems. These include the KN-06 and BUK systems. 

The F-35 is capable of penetrating North Korean Air Space undetected and engaging high value targets including SAM systems ahead of strike packages. 

The South Korean Air Force plans to combine 4.5 and 5th generation capabilities to counter threats from both North Korea and China in the coming years. The ability for the different generation of fighters to support each other during missions offers a capability previously not available. The change will increase the effectiveness of potential air operations.