South Korea on October 1 unveiled brand new US-manufactured F-35 stealth fighter jets for the first time during the country's Armed Forces Day ceremony, in a move that may anger North Korea. Reports suggest that as part of the biggest purchase, South Korea will buy forty F-35 fighter jets from arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin by the year 2021. The preliminary batches have arrived in the country this year. North Korea, on the other hand, has sternly reacted to the purchase calling them a provocation that is in violation of the inter-Korean accord with the objective to reduce military conflict. Photos of the stealth jets were shared on social media.
On October 1, South Korean President Moon reviewed military crafts including F-35, missiles and artillery systems that were on display on the ground at the start of the ceremony at an airbase in the southeastern corner of the country. Moon along with other officials afterwards watched three F-35s and other warplanes flying in a close formation one after another. In a televised address, Moon reportedly said that he felt secure about his country's might with new equipment such as F-35As that were unclassified for the first time and that his countrymen will be very proud of the military capacity. South Korea has previously released photos of its F-35s but it was for the very first time that the country has shown the planes at a formal event ever since the first two of the planes arrived in March as per state-run Defence Acquisition Program Administration.
Moon is known to be an advocate for reconciliation with North Korea, and is widely believed to be behind the recent US-North Korea diplomacy on the latter's nuclear program. North Korea's Kim Jong Un last year in September had signed a series of deals with the South which constituted easing of military tensions like stopping of front-line live-fire drills and dismantling guard posts along the border.
As per reports, traditionalists in South Korea have said the deals greatly jeopardised the country's national security as North's nuclear intimidation is constant. Moon has said that Tuesday's event that muscular national security will support dialogue and cooperation with North and be an effort for greater peace in Korea region. Nuclear talks have remained stalled since the second meeting between Kim and Trump in Vietnam in February earlier this year owing to disputes over U.S sanctions on North Korea. Kim and Trump did hold a meeting at the Korean border in June this year and have agreed to re-start diplomatic talks.
(With AP inputs)