South Korean Air Force has expressed interest to procure stealth-detection RADAR by the year 2020. South Korea’s neighbors such as Russia, Japan and China are racing to develop stealth fighter jets. China is developing fifth-generation stealth aircraft such as the J-20 and J-31 while Japan has signed a contract with Lockheed Martin to purchase 42 F-35 jets. Russia is working on building its own stealth fighter called T-50 aka Su-PAKFA with the aim of deploying it by 2016.

“The Air Force made the request to procure stealth detecting radars in July 2011 and the Joint Chiefs of Staff decided last November to procure it as part of the long-term acquisition plans,” a military source said, declining to be named. The official added it hasn’t yet been decided whether to import the radars from overseas or to develop them with Korea’s own technology. Iran claims to have developed a stealth aircraft detecting RADAR.

In its report offered during a parliamentary audit of the administration, the Air Force said that due to delays in the next-generation fighter procurement project and another to develop indigenous warplanes, the Air Force would fall short of some 80 warplanes in 2019 when most of its aging F-4s and F-5s will be decommissioned.

South Korea has been planning to buy 60 advanced jets to replace the aging fleet of F-4s and F-5s, but the schedule has been delayed as the state arms procurement agency last month voted down Boeing’s F-15 Silent Eagle with concerns over its relatively weak stealth features.

Although the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) vowed to speed up the process to sign a deal by next year, another delay in the acquisition program sparked concerns over the security vacuum in air power.

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