South Korea opts for F35B and confirms naval air ambitions

While some countries are wondering about the interest of aircraft carriers in a modern conflict, particularly in the United States and France, several countries are making significant efforts to acquire such a capability. This is the case of Japan, which ordered around forty F35Bs to arm its two Izumo-class aircraft carrier destroyers, India, which is continuing its efforts to strengthen its naval air fleet, or China, including the third aircraft carrier, this time equipped with electromagnetic catapults and capable of using heavy aircraft and combat drones. South Korea, whose naval ambitions have been discussed several times in our columns, is no exception. Indeed, Seoul announced, in July 2019, the development of two 30.000 tonne assault aircraft carriers capable of operating up to 16 F35B combat aircraft, which the country does not have.

This will soon be the case, as the South Korean press has echoed the decision taken by the country's authorities, and contrary to what was said in November 2019, to replace the last 20 F35A of the initial order which was to relate to 60 aircraft to replace the F4 and F5 still in service with the Korean Air Force, by 20 F35B, version with take-off and short or vertical landing of the American fighter, in service notably in the United States Marine Corps, in the Royal Air Force, and commanded by Tokyo, to serve on board their respective aircraft carriers. With these devices, Seoul will have power projection capabilities that are certainly limited, but real, both within the framework of the coalition and in the defense of its territory against Pyongyang or Beijing, if necessary.

Thanks to its orientable nozzle, and to its balancing fan located behind the cockpit, the F35B can perform short take-offs and vertical landings, like the Harriers that it replaces in the Marines Corps or the Royal Air Strength.

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