Feb 10, 2018

Maiden flight for Japanese EC-2 ELINT aircraft

An electronic intelligence (ELINT) variant of the Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) C-2 transport aircraft made its maiden flight on 8 February.
The milestone for the ELINT C-2 was not announced officially by the manufacturer, but was marked by images and video of the event posted online.
Designated EC-2 on account of its electronic mission, the aircraft is recognisably different from the baseline airlifter in that it has several appendages and other fairings attached to its upper and side fuselage, and atop the tail. The aircraft's radome is more bulbous compared with the airlifter's, and it is fitted with a large number of underfuselage antennas.

Russia confirms Iskander-M Kaliningrad deployment

The Chairman of the State Duma Defence Committee, Vladimir Shamanov, on 5 February confirmed for the first time the permanent deployment of Iskander-M missiles in Russia’s Kaliningrad Baltic exclave, independent Russian news agency Interfax has reported.
Plans for the deployment were announced by the Russian Ministry of Defence on 31 January.
On 5 February, Lithuanian Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis warned that Russia had now permanently stationed Iskander systems in the Kaliningrad region.
Shamanov replied, “We have them in place now, so what?”
The missiles are going to the 152nd Guards Missile Brigade based at Chernyakhovsk, in the Kaliningrad exclave.
In response, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė said the Iskander deployment near Kaliningrad “means a threat not only to Lithuania, but also to half the European states”.

China PLA scrambles Su-35s, J-20s to S China Sea as US Navy sails in

Beijing has responded to the US Navy’s ramped-up presence in the South China Sea – an aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson has been scheduled to call at Vietnamese ports next month – with squadrons of advanced fighters including Su-35s and J-20s that will soon start patrolling the 3.5-million-square-kilometer sea.
Further incidents involving US and Chinese forces appear inevitable after the China News Service revealed that the US guided-missile destroyer Hopper came within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan Island) last month, and was intercepted by the Chinese missile destroyer Huangshan. CNS said the US warship steered away from the area after a brief standoff.
Similar encounters in the air are set to become frequent as well, as the People’s Liberation Army has dispatched an unconfirmed number of Su-35 multirole fighters to the sea for joint combat cruise missions.
This is “a pragmatic action for the air force to fulfill its mission in the new era and conduct combat training exercises” above the South China Sea, said a statement by the PLA Air Force on its Weibo social media account.
It is also rumored that several J-20s already in service with the PLAAF will fly south to join Russian-made counterparts to test the 4.5th generation fighter’s operational reliability.

Israel strikes​ Iranian targets in Syria after F-16 fighter jet shot down

An Israeli jet was shot down during an attack on Iranian targets in Syria yesterday, in the most serious confrontation between the foes since the start of the civil war.
Israel said it sent an F-16 jet to disable an Iranian drone which entered into Israeli territory from Syria earlier on Saturday morning.
The military said it then faced massive anti-aircraft fire from the Syrian regime that forced two pilots to abandon the aircraft, which crashed in northern Israel.
One pilot was seriously wounded and the other lightly. Syrian officials reported large explosions in the centre of the country and the Syrian counter fire set off warning sirens throughout northern Israel.
The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said it struck at least a dozen targets after the jet was downed, including three aerial defence batteries and four Iranian targets near the capital Damascus.
Saturday's incident marked the first time an Israeli aircraft has been shot down by Syria since the Lebanese civil war in 1982.

Feb 3, 2018

First modernised Tu-160 makes maiden sortie

Russia's United Aircraft has flown the first remanufactured Tupolev Tu-160, with the supersonic aircraft performing a short flight from Kazan on 25 January.
Watched by a crowd of VIPs including Russian president Vladimir Putin, the 7min sortie was performed at an altitude of 300m, to check the aircraft's handling characteristics.
As well as modernising the aircraft with new avionics and engines, Tupolev has made extensive alterations to the existing airframe.
The Tu-160 was last produced in 2008 and the current upgrade process is part of an effort to re-establish the final assembly facility in Kazan.

UK begins Gazelle helicopter replacement effort

Initial work is under way to replace the British Army's active fleet of 22 elderly Aérospatiale Gazelle AH1 helicopters, as the venerable type nears retirement.
Air Cdre Al Smith,declined to reveal the platform under consideration, or the timeline for any acquisition. The latter is driven by the out-of-service date for the Gazelle, which could be accelerated from a current target of 2025 if the type becomes more costly to support due to a shortage of spare parts.
Employed by the Army Air Corps in the reconnaissance and battlefield liaison role, the Gazelle also relies on a pool of what Smith describes as "really highly trained" flightcrew, who are used to operating as a single pilot in "quite challenging weather conditions".

Jordan completes Black Hawk deliveries

The Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) has received into service its final batch of new Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk helicopters.
Delivery of the final UH-60M-standard platforms aboard a US Air Force (USAF) Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifter took place in December 2017, and was part of a wider handover that included 12 such helicopters supplied to the kingdom over the nine months.
The build-up of the RJAF’s Black Hawk inventory is geared at reinforcing the defence of border security against Islamic State forces in neighbouring Syria and Iraq, and to enable the Royal Jordanian Army’s Quick Reaction Forces to immediately deploy anywhere in the country. The US Congress appropriated USD470 million in 2017 to the Jordanian armed forces, including training for pilots, crew chiefs, and maintenance technicians, as well as spare parts, ground equipment, weapons, ammunition and shelters for the Black Hawks.

Airbus fires laser-guided rockets from H145M helicopter

Airbus Helicopters has announced a successful test-firing campaign of 70mm laser-guided rockets from its H145M helicopter.
The rocket tests, which were conducted in early December but announced Jan. 31, are part of the company’s development of its HForce weapons packages meant for military services looking to arm rotorcraft.
The tests were conducted at the Alvaden test range in Sweden, with the Thales FZ275 LGR, which stands for laser-guided rocket, and an MX-15D electro-optical system from L3 Wescam, according to Airbus.
The rockets are intended to deliver a precision strike, which seeks to limit civilians casualties, particularly in asymmetric combat.
The tests followed ballistic firing tests in Hungary in October, another key step in the development of the HForce weapon system for the H145M military helicopter.
Qualification of the ballistic HForce weapons package is expected at end of this year, with laser-guided rockets due to be certified by the end of 2019.

13 hypoxia-like events in one week led to USAF T-6 fleet grounding

The 19th Air Force’s fleet of T-6 trainers were grounded after 13 unexplained events, such as hypoxia in a single week.
The bulk of the unexplained physiological events ― 10 of them ― occurred at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi. Two other events occurred at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma, and another happened at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas.
The unexplained events included conditions such as hypoxia, or too little oxygen in the body; hypocapnia, or too little carbon dioxide in the blood; and hypercapnia, or too much carbon dioxide in the blood.

First operational JASDF F-35A makes its debut at Misawa AB

Japan Air Self-Defense welcomed the first operational Force F-35A Lightning II during an arrival ceremony at Misawa Air Base, Jan. 26.
In the upcoming Japanese fiscal year, nine more aircraft will join this one to incept the first fifth-generation fighter squadron as part of the JASDF’s 3rd Air Wing.
In total, JASDF plans to acquire 42 F-35As as successors to its F-4s. A commemorative ceremony is scheduled for Feb. 24 at Misawa AB to celebrate the official initial deployment of a JASDF F-35A.
"The F-35A will bring transformation in air defense power and significantly contribute to the peace for citizens and ensure security,” said JASDF Maj. Gen. Kenichi Samejima, the 3rd AW commander.

Jan 27, 2018

Singapore to receive A330 MRTT Airbus tanker in September this year

Singapore will take delivery of its first Airbus Defence and Space A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport later this year, as the country’s Air Force celebrates its 50th anniversary.
According to a news release issued by Singapore’s Defence Ministry detailing events and activities that the Republic of Singapore Air Force will hold to mark the anniversary, the A330 MRTT will make its first public appearance at a parade on Sept. 1, the date the service was formed in 1968 as the Singapore Air Defence Command.
The latest photos of the aircraft — taken at Toulouse, France, in November 2017 during the testing and evaluation phase following the conversion to the tanker configuration — show it still in its tan primer and not yet painted in the Air Force’s colors.
Singapore announced its order of six A330 MRTTs in March 2014 to recapitalize its fleet of midair refueling tankers. The Air Force currently operates a fleet of four Boeing KC-135R Stratotankers, acquired and refurbished in 2000 from stored ex-U.S. Air Force airframes.
The Republic of Singapore Air Force also has about five of its 10 Lockheed Martin C-130B/H Hercules airlifters plumbed for the tanker role, although they are no longer used in this role, as the Air Force currently does not operate aircraft equipped for refueling by probe.
The first Air Force A330 MRTT will be delivered in what is known as the MRTT Enhanced configuration, featuring a package of aerodynamic improvements, structural modifications and avionics updates over the previous baseline military variant. France and South Korea will also be receiving their A330 MRTTs in this standard.
Mike Yeo defensenews

USAF’s KC-46 tanker is almost ready for prime time

The head of Air Mobility Command said the KC-46 Pegasus is about 94 percent complete with tests needed for the aircraft’s second — and final — FAA certification.
Gen. Carlton Everhart visited Boeing in Washington state to get a hands-on look at the Air Force’s new refueling tanker.
“If everything stays on track and the weather holds, I think [Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration] can probably get everything done in the next 60 to 70 days, hopefully less,” Everhart told Air Force Times on Wednesday after flying on the KC-46 for the first time.
In December, the FAA certified the 767-2C, which is the modified 767 commercial plane that forms the basis of the KC-46.

Jan 23, 2018

Italy receives second G550 for AEW

Following a lead example that was delivered in late 2016, the new command-and-control aircraft has been acquired under a $750 million deal that also includes ground support equipment and a logistics support package. Rome has separately purchased an IAI-produced Earth observation satellite under its part of the arrangement, while Tel Aviv acquired 30 Leonardo M-346 advanced jet trainers for the Israeli air force.
"The first [CAEW] aircraft has already participated in several drills with NATO air forces, to the utmost satisfaction of the customer," Israel's defence ministry says.

Myanmar signs order for six Su-30s

Myanmar is to obtain six Sukhoi Su-30 fighters under a deal signed during a visit by Russia's defence minister to the Southeast Asian nation. TASS news agency quotes deputy defence minister Lt. Gen. Alexander Fomin as saying that the aircraft will be the main fighter aircraft of the Myanmar air force. The mainstay of Myanmar's combat fleet are 39 Mikoyan MiG-29 aircraft. The country is also shown as having orders for 16 Chengdu/Pakistan Aeronautical Complex JF-17 fighters.

Spain Receives Latest Standard Eurofighter Typhoon with Enhanced Air-to-Surface Capabilities

Photo credits to AirbusDS
The aircraft were manufactured at the Getafe Final Assembly Line in the P1Eb FW (Phase 1 Enhanced Further Work) configuration which marks a key step in the overall Eurofighter evolution plan.
This same configuration is being retrofitted to in-service aircraft by other Eurofighter nations. It provides increased integration of a variety of air-to-surface weapons and enhanced targeting among other improvements.
Spanish procurement agency DGAM took delivery of the aircraft on 22 December and they were subsequently ferried to Albacete air force base to enter service. The remaining six of the 73 aircraft currently contracted by Spain will be delivered to the same P1Eb FW standard during 2018 and 2019.

Jan 21, 2018

Russia begins delivering S-400 air defence systems to China

Russia has begun delivering the Almaz-Antei S-400 Triumf self-propelled surface-to-air missile (SAM) system to China under the terms of a contract signed in 2014, TASS news agency cited an unnamed source close to the Russian military-industrial complex as saying on 18 January.
The source, who did not reveal how many S-400s are set to be delivered, pointed out that the contract did not envisage either a technology transfer or licensed production of the systems.

The Air Force may not get B-21 bombers on time

he Air Force’s B-21 Raider program could stagnate under a year-long continuing resolution, as the lower funding stream would slow development and possibly even delivery of the new bomber, the service’s number-two civilian warned Thursday.
Congress is rushing to avoid a government shutdown, which will occur unless lawmakers pass a short-term funding stopgap by Friday. But the Air Force is getting increasingly worried that even the best case scenario — another CR — could curb key modernization efforts like the B-21, its Undersecretary Matt Donovan said.
“A long-term CR will limit execution of the engineering, manufacturing and development phase, the EMD phase, of the B-21,” he said at an Air Force Association event. “We would be limited to the FY17 funding level, which is far below the FY18 budget request. This will have the effect of postponing delivery of the critical strategic capability to the joint warfighter.”
The Air Force allotted $2 billion in its unclassified FY18 budget request for continued EMD activities, up from $1.3 billion the previous year. While the B-21 program currently remains on track, Donovan stated the program will be negatively affected as early as April if the Defense Department remains entangled in a CR.
Northrop Grumman won the B-21 contract in 2015 after a protracted battle with a Boeing-Lockheed Martin team. The Air Force currently intends to buy at least 100 B-21s, with the fielding of the first bombers planned for the mid-2020s.

Jan 20, 2018

B-52 bombers join B-2s, B-1s in Guam for second time in history

About a week after the Air Force deployed three B-2 Spirit stealth bombers to Guam, six B-52H Stratofortress bombers joined them on the island Tuesday.
The B-52s from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana deployed to Andersen Air Force Base along with about 300 airmen. The aircraft and personnel will support the U.S. Pacific Command’s continuous bomber presence mission, replacing six B-1B Lancer bombers, which are scheduled to return home to Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, at the end of this month.
But for a few days at least, all three types of bombers — the nuclear-capable B-2s and B-52s and the conventional B-1Bs — will be flying together out of the U.S. territory in the Pacific, just the second time that has happened, according to a Pacific Air Forces news release. The first time was in August 2016 as part of an historic integrated bomber operation.
The B-2 Spirits and about 200 airmen, assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, arrived Jan. 8 in support of U.S. Pacific Command’s bomber assurance and deterrence mission.

Indonesia puts KC-46A Pegasus, Airbus A330 MRTT on frame for aerial tanker requirement

The Indonesian Air Force (Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Udara) has begun a study to expand the service’s aerial refuelling capabilities, with a view on establishing a formal acquisition programme for two airframes by 2024.
The aircraft types that are being compared in this study are the A330 multirole tanker-transport (MRTT) from Airbus, and what the Indonesians allude to as a militarised version of the Boeing 767 tanker, in reference to the KC-46A Pegasus.
Issues that will be scrutinised in the study include suitability for Indonesian operational requirements, compatibility of refuelling methods with the TNI-AU’s fleet of aircraft, interoperability with existing and future assets, and life-cycle costs.
Prior to June 2015, the TNI-AU operated a fleet of two pod-equipped KC-130Bs, which were delivered in the early 1960s. One of these aircraft crashed in Medan on 30 June of that year after developing engine troubles, and since then the TNI-AU has had to rely on a single airframe of the type for its aerial refueling needs.

U.S. State Department clears potential sale of F-35s to Belgium

The U.S. State Department on Friday pre-emptively approved a sale of F-35s to Belgium, opening the door to an expedited purchase once the country selects its future fighter.
The proposed deal, worth an estimated $6.53 billion, would cover 34 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing models made by Lockheed Martin and 38 F-135 engines manufactured by Pratt & Whitney.
It also includes electronic warfare systems, communications gear, a full mission trainer and Lockheed’s Autonomic Logistics Information System — which facilitates maintenance, mission planning and logistics — as well as other equipment, the Defense Security Agency stated.
The F-35 is overwhelmingly considered the favorite for the Belgian fighter competition, which will replace the country’s 54 F-16s with 34 new jets. Should Belgium select the joint strike fighter, the total value of the deal will likely change after negotiations, as DSCA often puts forward a high contract estimate.
Competing against the joint strike fighter are the Dassault Rafale ,and the Eurofighter Typhoon,

Jan 14, 2018

USAF Lakenheath F-15s intercept Russian fighters in Baltic Mission

The Air Force on Friday released a video showing two recent instances in which F-15s deployed to Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, intercepted Russian Navy Su-30 Flankers near the Baltics.
The video compilation shows one encounter on Nov. 23 and another on Dec. 13. According to descriptions posted by the military, both incidents involved two Russian fighters in international airspace near the Baltics. In both encounters, the F-15s were scrambled because the Russians did not broadcast the codes required by air traffic control, and did not file a flight plan, the Air Force said.

Jan 13, 2018

B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, 200 airmen deploy to Guam

Three B-2 Spirit stealth bombers and approximately 200 airmen arrived at Andersen Air Force Base on Guam Monday.
The aircraft and airmen, assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, deployed to Guam in support of U.S. Pacific Command’s bomber assurance and deterrence mission, according to Pacific Air Forces.
During this “short-term deployment,” the B-2s will conduct local and regional training sorties. They will also work with “key regional partners, ensuring bomber crews maintain a high state of readiness and crew proficiency.”
The nuclear-capable stealth bombers join several B-1B Lancer conventional bombers at Andersen Air Force Base. PACOM has said the Lancers are “ready to fulfill [U.S. Forces Korea’s] Fight Tonight mission if called upon to do so.”

Royal Thailand Air Force Received First Two KAI T-50TH

South Korea’s aircraft manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI) has began delivery of its T-50TH trainer jets to Thailand’s Air Force as a part of a deal won from the Thai government in 2015.
The jets arrived at Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base via a 12-hour 6,658 kilometer ferry flight after leaving Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province, at 9 a.m., and flying through Taiwan, the Philippines, and Malaysia, on Monday.
An unnamed official from KAI said that it signed a $110 million contract with the Thai government in 2015 to export four T-50TH trainer jets. Two of four aircrafts were delivered on Monday and the remaining two will arrive in the Southeast Asian country in March, the official said.
KAI also signed a $260 million worth contract to export 8 more T-50TH to Thailand in July, last year.
KAI delivered 15 T-50i aircrafts to Indonesia in 2014 and 12 FA-50PH jets to the Philippines in 2015.
T-50 aircrafts were first exported to Indonesia in 2011. A total of 64 T-50 aircrafts worth $2.9 billion have been exported so far to the Middle East and Southeast Asia. KAI is currently pushing to export T-50 advanced aircrafts to the United States, Botswana, and Argentina.
Moon Ji-woong and Lee Eun-joo-pulsenews

Jan 7, 2018

Proposal to convert MSDF's Izumo into aircraft carrier merges at Japan´s Defense Ministry

The regular review of Japan's National Defense Program Guidelines is fast approaching, and attention is likely to be focused on the Self-Defense Forces' offensive strike capability.
Within the Defense Ministry, there is even a proposal circulating to convert the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF)'s Izumo helicopter carrier into a regular aircraft carrier. The idea is unlikely to be adopted, as it would risk shaking the foundations of Japan's defense-only policy. However, discussions on how best to prepare the SDF with defense capabilities have heated up noticeably within the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as China continues to emerge as a major military power and North Korea forges ahead with its ballistic missile and nuclear arms programs.
The current National Defense Program Guidelines were approved by the Cabinet in 2013, along with the five-year "Mid-term Defense Program" plan specifying equipment acquisition priorities. The guidelines will expire in mid-2020.
The proposal to convert the Izumo into a true aircraft carrier apparently emerged primarily from among the Defense Ministry's uniformed personnel, taking advantage of Prime Minister Abe's policy of reviewing both the defense program outline and midterm defense buildup plan.

Jan 6, 2018

Turkey makes deal to buy Russian-made S-400 air defense system

Turkey and Russia have finalized a contract for the acquisition and deployment of the Russian S-400 long-range air and anti-missile defense system on Turkish soil.
The contract involves the acquisition of one S-400 system with an option to purchase a second system.
The delivery of the S-400 system was scheduled for the first quarter of 2020.
The S-400 system would be operated by Turkish personnel and would be supported by a locally developed identification friend or foe, or IFF, system.
On Dec. 25, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would borrow the loan in Russian rubles instead of U.S. dollars so the debt would be less.

France receives first C-130J transport

France's first Lockheed Martin C-130J was delivered to its Orléans air base on 22 December 2017.
Carrying the service registration 61-PO, the tactical transport is the first of four C-130Js being acquired by Paris. Its second airlifter will be received later this year, while a pair of KC-130J tanker/transports – needed to refuel combat helicopters in-flight – are to follow during 2019.
The first delivery followed the approval of type certification for the new-generation Hercules by France's DGA defence procurement agency, under a procurement approved in January 2016.

US Army begins process to buy 35 more UH-72s

The US Army on 4 January took the first step in the process to award a contract to Airbus for up to 35 more UH-72 Lakota helicopters.
The notice notes that only Airbus owns the technical data on the UH-72, which means any potential competitor would have to acquire the data from the OEM to build the twin-engined aircraft.
Airbus has delivered more than 400 UH-72s to the army since 2006. The re-designated H145 aircraft lack a military airworthiness certificate by design, rendering the fleet limited to peacetime support roles. In 2014, the army also selected the UH-72A to replace the Bell Helicopter TH-67 as a primary trainer.
The army’s approved budget in Fiscal 2017 contains funds to buy 23 UH-72As, so up to another 12 could be purchased later.
Airbus assembles the UH-72 from a factory in Columbus, Mississippi, although major components are built in Europe.
The new order from the army is necessary to keep the facility open.

Jan 1, 2018

Japan signs for KC-46A tanker

Boeing has secured up its first international customer for the KC-46A Pegasus tanker, with the announcement that Japan has signed up for a single aircraft.
The Foreign Military Sale (FMS) is valued at USD279 million and was announced by Boeing on 22 December. As well as one KC-46A, the contract covers support.
Japan selected the KC-46A under its KC-X aerial refuelling competition in October 2015. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) is looking to acquire four new tankers to augment its current fleet of four Boeing KC-767J platforms. The sale of four KC-46As to Japan was approved by the US government in September 2016. The total value was given at that time as USD1.9 billion.
While the latest contract announcement did not provide a delivery timeline, the earlier KC-X announcement called for the first aircraft to be received by the JASDF in 2020. With delays to Boeing’s programme to deliver up to 179 KC-46As to the US Air Force (USAF), it is likely that this initial schedule will be pushed back.

Dec 30, 2017

India retires MiG-21 MiG-27ML Fleet

The Indian Air Force on Friday bid adieu to two of its old Russian-origin MiG fighter aircraft, one of which was flown by the Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa in its swansong flight.
At the Nal airbase in Rajasthan, Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa flew the last sortie of the Hawkeyes, 108 Squadron, bringing a glorious end to the reign of the MiG-21 T-96 aircraft, flown by the squadron.
This comes days after former IAF chief Fali Homi Major flew the last sortie of the Mi-8 helicopter in Bengaluru before the choppers stopped flying.
"It is in the IAF tradition to have the senior-most pilot fly the oldest machine while bidding adieu," said an IAF official.
The 108 Squadron is being 'number-plated', which means it would remain dormant for the time being and would be re-formed to produce new aircraft.
In Hashimara in West Bengal, the last MiG-27 ML roared for the last time in its farewell flight.
Named Bahadur, the swing-wing MiG-27 ML has the single most powerful engine in the world with a variable geometry wing that allows a pilot to change the wing sweep angle while flying as per the mission requirements.
The aircraft, which was flown by the 22 Squadron, is also being number-plated.
Though the MLs have retired, they are not the last swing-wing aircraft in service. Some of the MiG-27s were upgraded to MiG-27 UPG, which will continue to fly.
The MiG-27 UPGs are based in Jodhpur.

Dec 27, 2017

South Korea, Japan Mull interested in F-35Bs for Amphibious Assault Ships

South Korea's navy is looking to buy stealthy F-35B aircraft, the Marine Corps jump-jet variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, for its new Dokdo-class amphibious assault ships.
Citing military sources, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said the Lockheed Martin Corp.-made short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35Bs would be part of South Korea's long-term plan to build a "blue water" navy.
South Korea currently has one amphibious assault ship, the 14,300-ton, 653-foot Dokdo, which is the largest ship in the South Korean navy. A second Dokdo-class amphib is planned for 2020.
Japan is also considering buying F-35Bs to operate from its helicopter carrier, the Japan Times reported.
The problem for South Korea and Japan will be in redesigning the decks of the amphibs to take the heat and stress of the F-35B vertical landings. The Dokdo class ships now are configured to support 10 helicopters.