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US Clears $271M F-35 Munition Sale to South Korea

South Korea has been cleared to procure US-made precision weapons to integrate into its fleet of F-35A Lightning II aircraft.

According to a US State Department announcement, Seoul has requested 39 AIM-120C-8 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) and other munitions for $271 million.

It also signified its intent to purchase two AIM-120C-8 AMRAAM Guidance Sections, 88 KMU-556 Tail Kits, and 86 Mk-84 General Purpose bombs for attacking hardened targets such as bunkers.

Also included in the request are 342 Mk-82 bombs, 12 Mk-82 inert bombs, 35 GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs, and AIM-120 control section spares and containers.

Once delivered, the air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions are expected to help the Asian nation deter aggression in the region and ensure interoperability with US forces.

“The proposed sale will improve the Republic of Korea’s capability to meet current and future threats,” the announcement stated. “Korea will have no difficulty absorbing these articles and services into its armed forces.”

Preparing for North Korea

A report by Australian Defence Magazine stated that some of the approved items for procurement aim to transform F-35 bombs into laser or satellite-guided weapons.

They are requested to prepare for a potential conflict with North Korea.

A number of weapons in the package are also designed to hit hardened military targets, which Pyongyang is well-known for.

The GBU-31, for example, is capable of penetrating four to six feet (120 to 180 centimeters) of reinforced concrete, including those related to North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs.

Additionally, the Small Diameter Bomb is capable of hitting moving targets, including the ballistic missiles and artillery rockets of Seoul’s closest rival.

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