A handout photo made available by U.S. Forces Korea shows a U.S. Air Force F-35B stealth fighter taking off from its base in Japan in March 2017. The fighter participated in a joint drill between South Korea and the United States. File Photo by USFK/EPA

 

By Elizabeth Shim

 

(UPI) — More F-35 stealth fighters could be soon deployed to Korea and Japan, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported Monday.

 

 

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, with a maximum speed of around Mach 1.6, is a single-seat, single-engine multirole fighter that could be deployed by the dozens in Northeast Asia, according to the report.

 

 

By the early 2020s, the United States, Japan and South Korea could have more than 100 F-35 joint strike fighters stationed close to North KoreaPopular Mechanics reported.

 

 

A squadron of the fighter jets is already stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan and took part in joint drills in South Korea in March.

Eight F-35B fighters demonstrated its precision strike capabilities during the March exercises known as Foal Eagle.

 

 

The U.S. Air Force is also to deploy F-35A fighter jets of the 34th Fighter Squadron to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, and Osan Air Force Base in South Korea by the end of 2017.

 

 

A total of 40 F-35 fighters are to be deployed to South Korea by 2021, according to Yonhap.

 

 

The F-35A can be equipped with four missiles, including two GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition air-to-ground and two AIM-120C air-to-air missiles.

 

 

North Korea has been acquiring radar systems to prepare for possible F-35A incursions and has deployed more than 40 air-to-surface SA-5 Gammon missiles near Pyongyang, according to the report.

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