Only about half of the Air Force's next-generation F-35A fighter jet, which cost a hefty W121 billion, will be fully armed due to lack of combat weapons (US$1=W1,062).
Seoul decided to buy 40 F-35As at a total cost of W7.34 trillion last month and claimed that would allow the Air Force to "overwhelm" North Korea. But it has bought only half the weapons needed for the F-35As in a war, according to Air Force data submitted to Saenuri Party lawmaker Song Young-keun Wednesday.
The Air Force has secured a mere 45 percent of air-to-air missiles that would be used against North Korean fighter jets and only 75 percent of the required number of air-to-ground missiles.
This suggests that the Air Force could mobilize at most 18 F-35As for air-to-air combat and 30 for air-to-ground combat in a war.
Each F-35A is armed with various weapons, including AIM-120 and AIM-9 air-to-air missiles and GBU-12, GBU-31 and GBU-39 air-to-ground missiles.
"We couldn't afford to pay attention to how to arm the F-35As because we concentrated on buying 40 of them," an Air Force officer admitted.
Some 66 percent of the budget for the epically delayed fighter project were spent on buying the fighter aircraft, with a mere 8 percent spent on weapons and equipment.
The military is also under fire for deciding to buy only one backup engine for the 40 jets rather than the usual four to six or 10 to 15 percent spare.