South Korea nicknamed its newly-introduced F-35A next-generation fighter jets “freedom knight,” Yonhap news agency reported citing Air Force officials.
“We held a contest among our service members and chose the name after holding a deliberation committee session in December,” an Air Force official was quoted as saying. The nickname reflects the military’s hope for the advanced fighters to serve as a loyal knight that protects the freedom of South Korea’s noble value of free democracy, he added.
The name “also carries the meaning of succeeding missions by the country’s F-5 fighter jets which were codenamed “Freedom Fighter,” according to the official.
The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) has so far received at least 13 F-35As under a 2014 deal, worth about $6.4 billion, to acquire a total of 40 fifth-generation jets through 2021. The service is expected to receive 13 more F-35As in 2020 and 14 more the next year.
South Korea is now in process to acquire 20 additional F-35s under the second phase of its procurement plan, code-named F-X III, according to a report submitted by the country’s arms procurement agency, Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), to the National Assembly in October last year.
Seoul showcased its newly-acquired F-35As to the public for the first time during the Armed Forces Day ceremony on Oct. 1, 2019. A total of four Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) F-35s were displayed at the event held at the Air Force’s 11th Fighter Wing base in the southeastern city of Daegu. The jets entered operational service in December last year.
The F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather, fifth-generation stealth multirole fighters designed and developed by American defense contractor Lockheed Martin to perform ground attack and air superiority missions.
It has three main models: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) variant, and the F-35C carrier-based Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) variant.