SEOUL • The first F-35A stealth fighter aircraft for South Korea has made its public debut amid a series of diplomatic encounters ahead of an inter-Korean summit next month.
South Korea and the United States held a joint rollout ceremony for the jet at Lockheed Martin's assembly line in Fort Worth, Texas, on Wednesday, reported Yonhap news agency.
The aircraft is the first of 40 F-35As South Korea has agreed to purchase in a 2014 contract. Each aircraft is reportedly priced at around 120 billion won (S$148 million).
South Korea may buy 20 more F-35s as the air force has requested more assets, reported Yonhap.
Defence officials said the production of the fifth-generation F-35A Lightning II represents a milestone in South Korea's combat readiness.
Adding to the Air Force's existing fleet of F-15Ks and F-16s, the F-35As are expected to play a key role in South Korea's envisioned Kill Chain pre-emptive strike system.
Under the Kill Chain programme, South Korea aims to detect impending missile attacks from North Korea and launch pre-emptive strikes.