The name 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.”
South Korea christened its new F-35A fifth-generation fighter jet “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 spokesman added that the name 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.”
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.
ROK concluded its F-X III fighter acquisition program with the signing of a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) between the U.S. and Korean governments on Sep. 30, 2014, for 40 F-35A Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL). According to DEFPOST, the ROKAF has so far received at least 13 F-35As and is expected to receive 13 more Freedom Knights 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 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.
The first F-35A for the ROKAF, known as aircraft AW-1, made its public debut in late March 2018 and pilot training began at Luke AFB, Ariz. in spring 2018.
Seoul showcased its newly-acquired F-35As to the public for the first time during the Armed Forces Day ceremony on Oct. 1, 2019. The ROKAF displayed four F-35s 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.
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin