North Korea has condemned its southern neighbour over its decision to deploy US-made fifth-generation F-35A fighter jets, Uriminzokkiri, an online portal transmitting news from North Korea’s Central News Agency, has reported.
Calling on Seoul to consider the potential “catastrophic consequences” of the fighters’ deployment in the region, the outlet stressed that “this unfriendly act exacerbates military tensions on the Korean Peninsula and is a direct challenge to efforts to achieve peace.”
South Korea received the first two of its F-35A fighter jets late last month, with eight more expected to be delivered by the end of the year, and a total of 40 on order. The rest of the $85 million apiece planes are expected to be delivered by 2021. Before delivery, South Korean pilots spent months training six F-35A aircraft at an airbase in Arizona.
North Korea’s Air Force consists mostly of Soviet-era aircraft, including licence-built MiG-21s and Su-25s, with MiG-23s and MiG-29, first introduced in the early 80s, serving as the country’s most modern fighter aircraft.
Earlier this year, hopes for progress in achieving peace on the peninsula faded as much anticipated talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump in Hanoi collapsed without a deal or even a final communique.
Last week, US Acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan emphasized that the US would not be reducing the extent of its military exercises with South Korea, adding that it was on the contrary building up its capability.