16:40 GMT +314 December 2019
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    In this Feb. 28, 2017, photo, a Lockheed Martin F-35A Lighting II from the 323 Squadron, Royal Netherlands Air Force flies through the nicknamed Star Wars Canyon on the Jedi transition in Death Valley National Park, Calif.

    Despite Kim 'Looking Forward' to Meeting Trump, S Korea Gets US F-35 Warplane

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    Asia & Pacific
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    A presentation ceremony to hand the first the state-of-the-art US F-35A fighter-bomber to the South Korean Air Force has taken place at Fort Worth airbase in Texas.

    "The F-35A will not only deliver tremendous capability to ROK [the Republic of Korea], it also reinforces our alliance and further strengthens our defense relationship," US Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord said.

    Speaking of the "iron clad" US-ROK alliance, she described the presentation ceremony as "one example of how the unity and cooperation between our two great nations will continue for years to come."

    READ MORE: The March to War: US and South Korea Practice Destroying North Korean WMDs

    She was echoed by South Korean Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Seong-Yong Lee, who emphasized that the fifth-generation F-35A warplanes' deployment to South Korea will "enhance the ROK and USAF interoperability" and adds further to "the iron clad ROK-US alliance."

    According to him, the South Korean Air Force needs the F-35A "to be manufactured on schedule" and "our pilots, maintainers and support staff to be trained on time."

    READ MORE: We Won’t ‘Beg for Dialogue’: North Korea Rules Out Talks With US Preconditions

    Earlier it was reported that South Korea could purchase a total of 60 F-35As, with 40 such aircraft expected to be delivered to South Korea by 2021.
    The deployment of the first F-35As to South Korea's main operational base at Cheongju is scheduled for 2019.

    The aircraft's presentation came as US President Donald Trump wrote on his Twitter page that he'd "received a message last night from [President] Xi Jinping of China that his meeting with [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un went very well and that Kim looks forward to his meeting with me."

    Earlier this week, Trump announced his decision to meet Kim Jong-un before the end of May, with the White House yet to define the details of the meeting, including a date, time and location.


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