Four more F-35A fighter jets are scheduled to arrive in South Korea later this week at a time when the thaw in relations with the North appears hardening again.
The F-35 jets are set to arrive at the 17th Fighter Wing in Cheongju, 140 kilometers south of Seoul, on Thursday, Yonhap News said quoting military sources adding that with the new arrivals the number of the stealth fighters in the country's Air Force will increase to eight.
So far, four F-35As have arrived; two in March and the rest in July, under Seoul's plan to deploy a total of 40 stealth fighters through 2021. By the end of this year, 10 F-35As are to arrive in South Korea, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).
A ceremony to publicize their introduction into the air force is expected to take place around October when the Air Force is to celebrate the 70th anniversary of its foundation.
The planned arrival comes at a time when North Korea has intensified its criticism against South Korea for the introduction of advanced weapons, claiming that such a military buildup is aimed at destroying North Korea and threatens peace on the Korean Peninsula and in the region.
South Korea like other F-35 partners such as Japan wants more work as part of the F-35 supply chain which it sees coming its way should Turkey be fully ejected from the program. So far, the US has remained cold to any overtures in this regard.