The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) will not repair a Lockheed Martin F-35A that was damaged in January after sucking an eagle into its engine intake.
After examining the jet with assistance from Lockheed, the service determined that the accident had caused too much damage to make restoration affordable, according to South Korean media reports quoting the ROKAF.
One report indicates that 300 components were damaged including the airframe, structure, its Pratt & Whitney F135 engine, and other systems.
Another report suggests that repairs would cost W140 billion ($107 million), making them more expensive than buying a new aircraft for W110 billion.
Although the ROKAF will not restore the jet to flight status, it is considering other options, such as using it as a maintenance training device.
In early January, South Korean media reported that a ROKAF F-35A had made a belly landing but provided no details as to the potential causes. The pilot was able to evacuate the aircraft safely.
The decision to retire the aircraft will reduce South Korea’s F-35 fleet to 39 examples.
In September, the US government cleared a possible sale of 25 additional F-35As to South Korea, setting the stage for Seoul to make a follow-on order for the low observable type.
The value of the possible F-35A sale is $5.1 billion, according to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency notification.