18:53 GMT10 May 2021
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    Earlier this week, South Korean media reported that the country’s air force expects to achieve initial operating capability for its first batch of F-35As later this month. North Korea has threatened to destroy the US-made war planes, calling their delivery to the peninsula an “extremely dangerous action.”

    The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) has released a 4:38 minute video showing off its advanced capabilities, including those of its newly obtained F-35A fighters.

    Showcasing the F-35A’s stealth capabilities, the video goes on to show animated footage of the plane attacking North Korean targets, including the DPRK’s new Hwasong-14 mobile intercontinental ballistic missile launcher and what appear to be a Russian-made Pantsir-S1 short-range air defence system and 2K12 Kub mobile surface-to-air missile system.

    Although the Kub is known to serve in North Korea’s air defence forces, it’s not immediately clear why animators chose to include the Pantsir-S1, since North Korea is not known to operate the air defence system at present.

    First F-35As to Become Operational Next Week

    Seoul received the first of its F-35A fighters in March, with 13 planes expected to be delivered before the end of the year. Another 47 F-35As are on order. The ‘A’ denotes that the planes are the F-35’s conventional takeoff and landing variant.

    On Friday, The Diplomat reported, citing local media, that ROKAF expects to declare initial operating capability for its F-35As on December 17.

    North Korea voiced its concerns over the delivery of F-35 fighters to the Korean peninsula in July, categorizing them as a potential ‘first strike weapon’ and promising to develop and test new “special armaments to completely destroy the lethal weapons reinforced in South Korea.”

    The F-35 is a fifth-generation multi-role fighter designed and manufactured by Lockheed Martin. While boasting numerous advanced capabilities, including stealth, advanced cockpit, radar, avionics and helmet-mounted display systems, the plane has also been criticised for a plethora of design problems, glitches, and operational issues. With an estimated operational lifetime cost of $1.5 trillion, the F-35 is the most expensive weapons system in human history.


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