Republic of Korea Air Force

Last updated
Republic of Korea Air Force
대한민국 공군
Logo of the South Korean Air Force.png
Republic of Korea Air Force logo
FoundedOctober 1, 1949;69 years ago (1949-10-01)
CountryFlag of South Korea.svg South Korea
Type Air force
Role Aerial warfare
Size65,000 (2018) [1]
700 aircraft
Part ofFlag of the Republic of Korea Armed Forces.svg  Republic of Korea Armed Forces
Garrison/HQ Gyeryong, South Korea
Nickname(s)"ROK Air Force", "ROKAF", "South Korean air force"
March"Air Force Anthem" (Korean: 공군가; Hanja: 空軍歌; Gonggunga, literally "air force song") [2] [3]
Mascot(s)Haneuli and Purumae
Engagements Korean War
Vietnam War
Persian Gulf War
Global War on Terrorism
Commander-in-Chief President Moon Jae-in
Minister of National Defense Jeong Kyeong-doo
Air Force Chief of Staff General Won In-choul
Flag of the Republic of Korea Air Force.svg
Roundel of South Korea.svg
Low-visibility roundel
Roundel of South Korea - Low Visibility.svg

The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF; Korean : 대한민국 공군; Hanja: 大韓民國 空軍; Romanization: Daehanminguk Gong-gun), also known as the ROK Air Force, is the aerial warfare service branch of South Korea, operating under the South Korean Ministry of National Defense.

Korean language Language spoken in Korea

The Korean language is an East Asian language spoken by about 77 million people. It is a member of the Koreanic language family and is the official and national language of both Koreas: North Korea and South Korea, with different standardized official forms used in each country. It is also one of the two official languages in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture and Changbai Korean Autonomous County of Jilin province, China. It is also spoken in parts of Sakhalin, Ukraine and Central Asia.

Hanja Korean language characters of Chinese origin

Hanja is the Korean name for Chinese characters. More specifically, it refers to those Chinese characters borrowed from Chinese and incorporated into the Korean language with Korean pronunciation. Hanja-mal or Hanja-eo refers to words that can be written with Hanja, and hanmun refers to Classical Chinese writing, although "Hanja" is sometimes used loosely to encompass these other concepts. Because Hanja never underwent major reform, they are almost entirely identical to traditional Chinese and kyūjitai characters, though the stroke orders for some characters are slightly different. For example, the characters and are written as 敎 and 硏. Only a small number of Hanja characters are modified or unique to Korean. By contrast, many of the Chinese characters currently in use in Japan and Mainland China have been simplified, and contain fewer strokes than the corresponding Hanja characters.

Air force military branch of service primarily concerned with aerial warfare

An air force, also known in some countries as an aerospace force or air army, is in the broadest sense, the national military branch that primarily conducts aerial warfare. More specifically, it is the branch of a nation's armed services that is responsible for aerial warfare as distinct from an army or navy. Typically, air forces are responsible for gaining control of the air, carrying out strategic and tactical bombing missions, and providing support to land and naval forces often in the form of aerial reconnaissance and close air support.



P-51 Mustangs were among the first fighter aircraft for the ROKAF ROKAF F-51D.JPEG
P-51 Mustangs were among the first fighter aircraft for the ROKAF


Shortly after the end of World War II, the South Korean Air Construction Association was founded on August 10, 1946, to publicize the importance of air power. Despite the then-scanty status of Korean armed forces, the first air unit was formed on May 5, 1948, under the direction of Dong Wi-bu, the forerunner to the modern South Korean Ministry of National Defence. On September 13, 1949, the United States contributed 10 L-4 Grasshopper observation aircraft to the South Korean air unit. An Army Air Academy was founded on January 1949, and the ROKAF was officially founded on October 1949.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.


The 1950s were a critical time for the ROKAF as it expanded tremendously during the Korean War. At the outbreak of the war, the ROKAF consisted of 1,800 personnel but was equipped with only 20 trainers and liaison aircraft, including 10 North American T-6 Texan advanced trainers purchased from Canada. The North Korean air force had acquired a considerable number of Yak-9 and La-7 fighters from the Soviet Union, dwarfing the ROKAF in terms of size and strength. However, during the course of the war, the ROKAF acquired 110 aircraft: 79 fighter-bombers, three fighter squadrons, and one fighter wing. The first combat aircraft received were North American F-51D Mustangs, along with a contingent of US Air Force instructor pilots under the command of Major Dean Hess, as part of Bout One Project. The ROKAF participated in bombing operations and flew independent sorties. After the war, the ROKAF Headquarters was moved to Daebangdong, Seoul. Air Force University was also founded in 1956.

Korean War 1950–1953 war between North Korea and South Korea

The Korean War was a war between North Korea and South Korea. The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea following a series of clashes along the border.

Liaison aircraft Light aircraft for artillery observation and military communications

A liaison aircraft is a small, usually unarmed aircraft primarily used by military forces for artillery observation or transporting commanders and messages. The concept developed before World War II and included also battlefield reconnaissance, air ambulance, column control, light cargo delivery and similar duties. Able to operate from small, unimproved fields under primitive conditions, with STOL capabilities, most liaison aircraft were developed from, or were later used as general aviation aircraft. Both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters can perform liaison duties.

North American T-6 Texan American single-engined advanced trainer aircraft

The North American Aviation T-6 Texan is an American single-engined advanced trainer aircraft used to train pilots of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), United States Navy, Royal Air Force, and other air forces of the British Commonwealth during World War II and into the 1970s. Designed by North American Aviation, the T-6 is known by a variety of designations depending on the model and operating air force. The United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) and USAAF designated it as the AT-6, the United States Navy the SNJ, and British Commonwealth air forces the Harvard, the name by which it is best known outside the US. Starting in 1948, the new United States Air Force (USAF) designated it the T-6, with the USN following in 1962. It remains a popular warbird aircraft used for airshow demonstrations and static displays. It has also been used many times to simulate various Japanese aircraft, including the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, in movies depicting World War II in the Pacific. A total of 15,495 T-6s of all variants were built.


A F-4D armed with AIM-9 missiles at Daegu Air Base in January 1979. F-4D ROKAF w Sidewinders 1979.jpeg
A F-4D armed with AIM-9 missiles at Daegu Air Base in January 1979.

To counter the threat of possible North Korean aggression, the ROKAF underwent a substantial capability enhancement. The ROKAF acquired North American T-28 Trojan trainers, North American F-86D Sabre night- and all-weather interceptors, Northrop F-5 fighters and McDonnell Douglas F-4D Phantom fighter bombers. Air Force Operations Command was established in 1961 to secure efficient command and control facilities. Air Force Logistics Command was established in 1966, and emergency runways were constructed for emergency use during wartime. The Eunma Unit was founded in 1966 to operate Curtiss C-46 Commando transport aircraft used to support Republic of Korea Army and Republic of Korea Marine Corps units serving in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. [4]

North American T-28 Trojan Family of military training aircraft

The North American Aviation T-28 Trojan is a piston-engined military trainer aircraft used by the United States Air Force and United States Navy beginning in the 1950s. Besides its use as a trainer, the T-28 was successfully employed as a counter-insurgency aircraft, primarily during the Vietnam War. It has continued in civilian use as an aerobatics and Warbird performer.

North American F-86 Sabre Family of fighter aircraft

The North American F-86 Sabre, sometimes called the Sabrejet, is a transonic jet fighter aircraft. Produced by North American Aviation, the Sabre is best known as the United States' first swept wing fighter that could counter the swept-wing Soviet MiG-15 in high-speed dogfights in the skies of the Korean War (1950–1953), fighting some of the earliest jet-to-jet battles in history. Considered one of the best and most important fighter aircraft in that war, the F-86 is also rated highly in comparison with fighters of other eras. Although it was developed in the late 1940s and was outdated by the end of the 1950s, the Sabre proved versatile and adaptable and continued as a front-line fighter in numerous air forces until the last active operational examples were retired by the Bolivian Air Force in 1994.

Northrop F-5 Lightweight low cost fighter aircraft based on Northrop T-38 Talon trainer

The Northrop F-5A and F-5B Freedom Fighter and the F-5E and F-5F Tiger II are part of a supersonic light fighter family, initially designed in the late 1950s by Northrop Corporation. Being smaller and simpler than contemporaries such as the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, the F-5 cost less to both procure and operate, making it a popular export aircraft. The F-5 started life as a privately funded light fighter program by Northrop in the 1950s. The design team wrapped a small, highly aerodynamic fighter around two compact and high-thrust General Electric J85 engines, focusing on performance and low cost of maintenance. Though primarily designed for the day air superiority role, the aircraft is also a capable ground-attack platform. The F-5A entered service in the early 1960s. During the Cold War, over 800 were produced through 1972 for U.S. allies. Though the United States Air Force (USAF) had no need for a light fighter, it did procure approximately 1,200 Northrop T-38 Talon trainer aircraft, which were directly based on the F-5A.


The ROKAF was posed with a security risk, with an increasingly belligerent North Korea throughout the 1970s. The South Korean government increased its expenditure on the ROKAF, resulting in the purchase of Northrop F-5E Tiger II fighters in August 1974 and F-4E fighter-bombers. Support aircraft, such as Fairchild C-123 Providers and Grumman S-2 Trackers were also purchased at the time. Great emphasis was placed in the flight training program; new trainer aircraft (Cessna T-41 Mescalero and Cessna T-37) were purchased, and the Air Force Education & Training Command was also founded in 1973 to consolidate and enhance the quality of personnel training.

Fairchild C-123 Provider Military transport aircraft series by Chase Aircraft, later Fairchild Aircraft

The Fairchild C-123 Provider is an American military transport aircraft designed by Chase Aircraft and then built by Fairchild Aircraft for the U.S. Air Force. In addition to its USAF service, which included later service with the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard, it also went on to serve most notably with the U.S. Coast Guard and various air forces in Southeast Asia. During the War in Vietnam, the C-123 was used to deliver supplies, to evacuate the wounded, and also used to spray Agent Orange.

Grumman S-2 Tracker Family of carrier-borne anti-submarine and maritime patrol aircraft

The Grumman S-2 Tracker was the first purpose-built, single airframe anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft to enter service with the United States Navy. Designed and initially built by Grumman, the Tracker was of conventional design — propeller-driven with twin radial engines, a high wing that could be folded for storage on aircraft carriers, and tricycle undercarriage. The type was exported to a number of navies around the world. Introduced in 1952, the Tracker and its E-1 Tracer derivative saw service in the U.S. Navy until the mid-1970s, and its C-1 Trader derivative until the mid-1980s, with a few aircraft remaining in service with other air arms into the 21st century. Argentina and Brazil are the last countries to still use the Tracker.

Cessna T-41 Mescalero US built military training aircraft series developed from Cessna 172

The Cessna T-41 Mescalero is a military version of the popular Cessna 172, operated by the United States Air Force and Army, as well as the armed forces of various other countries as a pilot training aircraft.


The ROKAF concentrated on qualitative expansion of aircraft to catch up to the strength of the North Korean Air Force. In 1982, Korean variants of the F-5E, the Jegong-ho were first produced. The ROKAF gathered a good deal of information on the North Korean Air Force when Captain Lee Woong-pyeong, a North Korean pilot, defected to South Korea. The Korean Combat Operations Information center was soon formed and the Air Defence System was automated to attain air superiority against North Korea. When the 1988 Seoul Olympics was held in South Korea, the ROKAF contributed to the success of this event by helping to oversee the entire security system. The ROKAF also moved its headquarters and the Air Force Education & Training Command to other locations. Forty General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters were purchased in 1989.

North Korea Sovereign state in East Asia

North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, is a country in East Asia constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula, with Pyongyang the capital and the largest city in the country. To the north and northwest, the country is bordered by China and by Russia along the Amnok and Tumen rivers and to the south it is bordered by South Korea, with the heavily fortified Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two. Nevertheless, North Korea, like its southern counterpart, claims to be the legitimate government of the entire peninsula and adjacent islands.

1988 Summer Olympics Games of the XXIV Olympiad, celebrated in Seoul (South Korea) in 1988

The 1988 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIV Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event celebrated from 17 September to 2 October 1988 in Seoul, South Korea.

South Korea Republic in East Asia

South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. The name Korea is derived from Goguryeo which was one of the great powers in East Asia during its time, ruling most of the Korean Peninsula, Manchuria, parts of the Russian Far East and Inner Mongolia under Gwanggaeto the Great. Its capital, Seoul, is a major global city and half of South Korea's 51 million people live in the Seoul Capital Area, the fourth largest metropolitan economy in the world.


U.S. and South Korean F-16s demonstrate an 'Elephant Walk' as at Kunsan Air Base F-16 Kunsan AB Elephant Walk.jpg
U.S. and South Korean F-16s demonstrate an 'Elephant Walk' as at Kunsan Air Base

South Korea committed its support for coalition forces during the Persian Gulf War, forming the "Bima Unit" to fight in the war. The ROKAF also provided airlift support for peacekeeping operations in Somalia in 1993. The increased participation in international operations depicted the ROKAF's elevated international position. Over 180 KF-16 fighters of F-16 Block 52 specifications were introduced as part of the Peace Bridge II & III program from 1994. In 1997, for the first time in Korean aviation history, female cadets were accepted into the Korean Air Force Academy.


The last of the old South Korean 60 F-5A/B fighters were all retired in August 2007, and they were replaced with the F-15K and F/A-50. On October 20, 2009, Bruce S. Lemkin, deputy undersecretary of the U.S. Air Force said that the ROKAF's limited intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities increased the risk of instability on the Korean Peninsula and suggested the purchase of American systems such as the F-35 Lightning II to close this gap. [5]


The South Korean Air Force also expressed interests in acquiring the RQ-4 Global Hawk remotely piloted vehicle (RPV) and a number of Joint Direct Attack Munition conversion kits to further improve its intelligence and offensive capabilities.[ citation needed ] The South Korean Airforce acquired 40 F-35s and +20 additional F-35


A South Korean air force F-15K ROKAF F-15K (modified).jpg
A South Korean air force F-15K
FA-50 Fighting Eagle Light Combat FA-50 Fighting Eagle.jpg
FA-50 Fighting Eagle
A Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft Korean AF C-130H (3097678513).jpg
A Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft
Boeing 737 AEW&C aircraft of the South Korean air force gongjungjogigyeongbotongjegi (7445565660).jpg
Boeing 737 AEW&C aircraft of the South Korean air force

Current projects

Three F-15K flying in formation during the Red Flag Alaska exercises, August 2013. KOCIS Korea Airforce 20130802 08 (9508635470).jpg
Three F-15K flying in formation during the Red Flag Alaska exercises, August 2013.

F-X fighter program

F-X Phase 1

The first phase of the air forces fighter procurement programs was the addition to the ROKAF of the F-15K Slam Eagle to fulfill the requirements of the "F-X" next generation fighter program in 2002.

F-X Phase 2

For the second phase of the F-X program, ROKAF has purchased 21 additional F-15K to compensate for the retirement of their F-5A/B in August 2007.

F-X Phase 3

The third phase of the F-X project is a bid for an advanced multi-role strike fighter aircraft by 2014, intended to replace the aging F-4 Phantom II and F-5. The F-35A Lightning II was selected in November 2013 following the cancellation of the previous competitive tender, with 40 Block 3F aircraft to be acquired beginning in 2018. 20 additional unspecified fighters will also be purchased. [6] The contract became formal on September 2014. [7]

E-X Early warning aircraft program

The E-X Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft program (also known as 'Peace Eye') was undertaken by the Republic of Korea Air Force to purchase AEW capability to strengthen ROKAF's ability to detect and distinguish between friendly and hostile aircraft. The two candidates for this program were the Boeing 737 AEW&C and a consortium of Israel Aerospace Industries, Elta, L-3 Communications and Gulfstream Aerospace offering a Gulfstream G500/G550 aircraft equipped with Phalcon radar.

Originally, the ROKAF preferred the Gulfstream as it was cheaper than the Boeing counterpart. The Gulfstream was, in turn, less capable than the Boeing. However, the fact that almost no other nations, barring Japan, has advanced AWACS gave the Koreans the impression that the Gulfstream would be adequate to handle the given task of the E-X project.

The United States issued a warning to the IAI/Elta consortium that several of the AWACS technologies employed aboard the Gulfstream was developed by the United States, such as the IFF system, TADIL A/B (Link 11) and J (Link 16), satellite communications and AN/ARC-164 Have Quick II radios, and thus that Israel was obliged not to resell any of these technologies to another country without the permission of the United States.[ citation needed ]

In August 2006 DAPA announced that the Gulfstream was disqualified from the competition because of the failure to obtain US export licences for the datalinks and satellite communications, leaving the Boeing as the only proposal. [8] In November 2006, the Boeing 737 AEW&C was announced to be the winner of the E-X AEW aircraft competition. In 2011, the first two of four Peace Eye aircraft were delivered. The final two aircraft were delivered in 2012.

KF-X future fighter program

The KF-X program is an early-stage project to develop an indigenous fighter aircraft. The current proposal is to develop an F-16 Block 50 class aircraft with basic stealth capabilities to replace the F-4D/E Phantom II and F-5E/F Tiger II aircraft. South Korea is reportedly seeking technological assistance from Saab, Boeing and Lockheed Martin for the production of the KF-X. On 15 July 2010, the Indonesia government agreed to fund 20% of the KF-X project cost in return of around 50 planes built for the Indonesian Air Force after project completion. In September 2010, Indonesia sent a team of legal and aviation experts to South Korea to discuss copyright issues of the aircraft. In December 2010 the program shifted from an F-16 class fighter to a stealth aircraft in order to respond to North Korean pressure.

The KF-X is envisioned as a medium fighter to at first supplement, then replace the ROK Air Force's KF-16 fleet. It will have capabilities in between the light FA-50 fighter and the high-grade, long range, heavy payload F-15K and F-35 Lightning II. [9]

Mid-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles (MUAV)

South Korea will resume a once-aborted program to develop Medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle to bolster its monitoring capabilities of North Korea's missile and nuclear programs. The state-funded Agency for Defense Development launched the indigenous drone development project in 2006 and made a prototype in May 2010. The medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV is designed to fly at an altitude of up to 10 kilometers and its radar can scan as far as 100 km. Korea hopes to complete development of the combat drones by 2018. [10] The overall performance of the drones under development in Korea is believed to be similar to the MQ-9 Reaper.

HALE (High Altitude, Long Endurance) UAV

Seoul had shown interest in the high-altitude, long-endurance Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk drone to conduct intelligence missions on North Korea, as it is preparing to take over wartime operational control from Washington at the end of 2015. But the price was nearly a three-fold jump from the initial price estimated by the defense ministry, and much higher than $875 million offered by the U.S. government in July 2011. [11] The U.S. Congress approved the sale to South Korea for 4 Global Hawk UAVs, but Seoul could have reconsidered the deal because of the high costs. [12] Northrop Grumman was awarded the contract to provide South Korea with four Block 30 Global Hawks in December 2014, with all to be delivered by June 2019. [13]

Aerial tanker

The Air Force is to acquire four aerial refueling tankers between 2017-2019. Potential candidates include the Airbus A330 MRTT and the Boeing KC-46. The tankers will be used to refuel combat jet fighters. Previous attempts to buy tankers had been delayed due to budget constraints. [14] On 12 August 2013, DAPA approved the plan for tanker acquisition. Bidding was to begin in February 2014, with the winner to be announced in October 2014 after evaluations of price and performance. Air-to-air refueling will increase the endurance of the KF-16 by 70 minutes, and the F-15K by 90 minutes. DAPA declined to reveal the budget for the plan and estimated to be over $1.3 billion. [15] A plan to buy four aircraft was to be approved in November 2013, with evaluations to proceed from March to May 2014. The contract is valued at $940 million. [16] Along with the Airbus A330 MRTT and Boeing KC-46, Israel Aerospace Industries is offering a version of the Boeing 767-300ER-derived multimission tanker transport. [17]


Current inventory

F-15K on landing F15K Landing.jpg
F-15K on landing
A FA-50 on first delivery FA-50 Fighting Eagle First delivery 1.jpg
A FA-50 on first delivery
The air force operates the Kamov Ka-32A4s helicopter for CSAR 05-004 Ka-32T (HH-32) RoK (3097668829).jpg
The air force operates the Kamov Ka-32A4s helicopter for CSAR
A F-16 Fighting Falcon on take off 2012nyeon 3weol gonggun 20bi coedae culgyeog hunryeon(4) (remix).jpg
A F-16 Fighting Falcon on take off
AircraftOriginTypeVariantIn serviceNotes
Combat Aircraft
KAI T-50 Republic of Korea light multirole FA-50 60 [18]
Northrop F-5 United States fighter F-5E 158 [18]
Boeing F-15E United States multirole F-15K 59 [18]
F-4 Phantom II United States multirole F-4E 71 [18]
F-35 Lightning II United States multirole F-35A 238 more on order [18]
F-16 Fighting Falcon United States multirole F-16C 168 [18] 51 D variants are used for training
Boeing 737 AEW&C United States early warning and control E-7A 4 [18] employs a Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array radar
Hawker 800 United Kingdom reconnaissance / SIGINT RC-800 8 [18]
Dassault Falcon France ELINT 2000 2 [18]
Airbus A330 MRTT France refueling / transport KC-30A 13 on order [18]
Boeing 747 United States VIP 747-400 1 [19] Presidential transport lease from Korean Air
Boeing 737 United States VIP 737-300 1 [20]
CASA CN-235 Spain / Indonesia transport / uitlity18 [18]
Lockheed C-130 United States tactical airlift C-130H 12 [18]
Lockheed C-130J United States tactical airlift 4 [18]
Bell 412 United States utility3 [18]
Boeing CH-47 United States transport / CSAR CH-47D 5 [18]
Sikorsky S-70 United States utility / CSAR HH-60P 29 [18]
Sikorsky S-92 United States VIP 3 [21]
Kamov Ka-27 Russia CSAR Ka-32 7 [18]
MD 500 Defender United States scout / light attack25 [18]
Eurocopter AS332 France utility / transport3 [18]
Trainer Aircraft
Northrop F-5 United States conversion trainer F-5F 36 [18]
KAI KT-1 Republic of Korea trainer / light attack106 [18]
KAI T-50 Republic of Korea LIFT trainer TA-50/50B 22/50 [18]
KAI KC-100 Republic of Korea trainer KT-100 221 on order [18]
RQ-4 Global Hawk United States surveillance4 on order [22]

Retired aircraft

Previous aircraft operated by the Air Force consisted of the P-51 Mustang, North American F-86 Sabre, F-4 Phantom II, Curtiss C-46, Douglas C-47, Lockheed T-33, North American T-28, North American T-6, Sikorsky H-19, and the Bell UH-1 Huey. [23] [24] [25]

Air-defense weapons

The ROKAF Air Defence Artillery Command transferred from the Republic of Korea Army's air defense artillery and was established as a basic branch on 1 July 1991. [26] Following the establishment of the ROKAF Air Defence Artillery Command as a separate service in 1991, the army began to develop further its own air defense artillery assets (short range SAM, SPAAG and man-portable air-defense systems) in support of ground operations.

Doosan Chunma self-propelled surface-to-air missile system Doosan K-SAM Chunma.jpg
Doosan Chunma self-propelled surface-to-air missile system
NameOriginTypeVariantIn serviceNotes
MIM-104 Patriot United States ABM / SAM system PAC-2 GEM/T 8 batteriesto be upgraded to PAC-3 standard [27]
MIM-23 Hawk United States SAM system I-Hawk 24 [27]
Doosan K-SAM Chunma Republic of Korea short range SAM system100 tracked vehicle
KM-SAM Republic of Korea medium range ABM / SAM system10 batteries
Anti-aircraft artillery
K200 KIFV Republic of Korea mobile anti-aircraft gun K263A1 200 self-propelled 20mm anti-aircraft gun
K30 Biho Republic of Korea mobile anti-aircraft gun 176contains twin 30mm self-propelled guns
KP-SAM Republic of Korea portable air defense2,000

Military ranks

Officer ranks can be learned fairly easily if one sees the pattern. "So" equals small; "Jung" equals medium; "Dae" equals large. "Jun" equals the prefix sub-.. Each of these is coupled with "wi" equals company grade, "ryeong" equals field grade, and "jang" equals general. This system is due to the hanja or Sino-Korean origin of the names.

OF-10OF-9OF-8OF-7OF-6OF-5OF-4OF-3OF-2OF-1 OF(D) and student officer
Flag of South Korea.svg South Korea
20.SKAF-GA.svg 19.SKAF-GEN.svg 18.SKAF-LG.svg 17.SKAF-MG.svg 16.SKAF-BG.svg 15.SKAF-COL.svg 14.SKAF-LTC.svg 13.SKAF-MAJ.svg 12.SKAF-CPT.svg 11.SKAF-1LT.svg 10.SKAF-2LT.svg Unknown
Marshal of the ROKAF
(Korean: 원수)
(Korean: 대장)
Lieutenant general
(Korean: 중장)
Major general
(Korean: 소장)
Brigadier general
(Korean: 준장)
(Korean: 대령)
Lieutenant colonel
(Korean: 중령)
(Korean: 소령)
(Korean: 대위)
(Korean: 중위)
Junior lieutenant
(Korean: 소위)
Flag of South Korea.svg South Korea
8.SKAF-SGM.svg 7.SKAF-MSG.svg 6.SKAF-SFC.svg 5.SKAF-SSG.svg 4.SKAF-SGT.svg 3.SKAF-CPL.svg 2.SKAF-PFC.svg 1.SKAF-PV2.svg No equivalent
(Korean: 원사)
(Korean: 상사)
(Korean: 중사)
(Korean: 하사)
(Korean: 병장)
(Korean: 상등병)
(Korean: 일등병)
(Korean: 이등병)
Chief Master SergeantSenior Master SergeantMaster SergeantTechnical SergeantStaff SergeantSenior AirmanAirman First ClassAirmanAirman Basic

Warrant officers

ROK Air Force's rankROK Air Force's insignia
Jun-way (warrant officer)


See also

Related Research Articles

Northrop Grumman E-8 Joint STARS airborne ground surveillance aircraft based on Boeing 707 airframe

The Northrop Grumman E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System is a United States Air Force airborne ground surveillance, battle management and command and control aircraft. It tracks ground vehicles and some aircraft, collects imagery, and relays tactical pictures to ground and air theater commanders. The aircraft is operated by both active duty Air Force and Air National Guard units and also carries specially trained U.S. Army personnel as additional flight crew.

Royal Air Force Aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces

The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom's aerial warfare force. Formed towards the end of the First World War on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world. Following victory over the Central Powers in 1918 the RAF emerged as, at the time, the largest air force in the world. Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history. In particular, it played a large part in the Second World War where it fought its most famous campaign, the Battle of Britain.

Royal Australian Air Force Air warfare branch of Australias armed forces

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), formed in March 1921, is the aerial warfare branch of the Australian Defence Force (ADF). It operates the majority of the ADF's fixed wing aircraft, although both the Australian Army and Royal Australian Navy also operate aircraft in various roles. It directly continues the traditions of the Australian Flying Corps (AFC), formed on 22 October 1912. The RAAF provides support across a spectrum of operations such as air superiority, precision strikes, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, air mobility, space surveillance, and humanitarian support.

Polish Air Force Aerial warfare branch of Polands armed forces

The Polish Air Force is the aerial warfare military branch of the Polish Armed Forces. Until July 2004 it was officially known as Wojska Lotnicze i Obrony Powietrznej. In 2014 it consisted of roughly 16,425 military personnel and about 475 aircraft, distributed among ten bases throughout Poland.

Airbus A330 MRTT Aerial refuelling tanker aircraft

The Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) is an aerial refuelling tanker aircraft based on the civilian Airbus A330. A version of the A330 MRTT, the EADS/Northrop Grumman KC-45 was proposed to the United States Air Force.

Boeing KC-767 Military tanker/transport aircraft by Boeing

The Boeing KC-767 is a military aerial refueling and strategic transport aircraft developed from the Boeing 767-200ER. The tanker received the designation KC-767A, after being selected by the U.S. Air Force (USAF) initially to replace older KC-135Es. In December 2003, the contract was frozen and later canceled due to corruption allegations.

Boeing 737 AEW&C Airborne early warning and control aircraft

The Boeing 737 AEW&C is a twin-engine airborne early warning and control aircraft. It is lighter than the 707-based Boeing E-3 Sentry, and mounts a fixed, active electronically scanned array radar antenna instead of a rotating one. It was designed for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) under "Project Wedgetail" and designated E-7A Wedgetail.

KEPD 350

Taurus KEPD 350 is a German air-launched cruise missile, manufactured by Taurus Systems and used by Germany, Spain, and South Korea. Taurus Systems GmbH is a partnership between MBDA Deutschland GmbH and Saab Bofors Dynamics.

Turkish Air Force Air warfare branch of Turkeys armed forces

The Turkish Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the Turkish Armed Forces. The Turkish Air Force can trace its origins back to June 1911 when it was founded by the Ottoman Empire, however, the air force as it is known today did not come into existence until 1923 with the creation of the Republic of Turkey.

KAI T-50 Golden Eagle Family of South Korean trainer and light combat aircraft

The KAI T-50 Golden Eagle (골든이글) is a family of South Korean supersonic advanced trainers and light combat aircraft, developed by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) with Lockheed Martin. The T-50 is South Korea's first indigenous supersonic aircraft and one of the world's few supersonic trainers. Development began in the late 1990s, and its maiden flight occurred in 2002. The aircraft entered active service with the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) in 2005.

War Memorial of Korea Military museum

The War Memorial of Korea is located in Yongsan-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea. It opened in 1994 on the former site of the army headquarters to exhibit and memorialize the military history of Korea. It was built for the purpose of preventing war through lessons from the Korean War and for the hoped for peaceful reunification of North and South Korea. The memorial building has six indoor exhibition rooms and an outdoor exhibition centre displaying war memorabilia and military equipment from China,South Korea and United States..

Korean Peoples Army Air and Anti-Air Force Air warfare branch of North Koreas military

The Korean People's Army Air and Anti-Air Force is the unified military aviation force of North Korea. It is the second largest branch of the Korean People's Army comprising an estimated 110,000 members. It possesses 940 aircraft of different types, mostly of old Soviet and Chinese origin. Its primary task is to defend North Korean airspace.

The KAI KF-X, also known as IA IF-X in Indonesia, is a joint South Korean and Indonesian fighter aircraft development program, intending to develop an advanced multirole fighter for the Republic of Korea Air Force and Indonesian Air Force. The program is spearheaded by South Korea, holding 80% of shares, and was joined by Indonesia in 2010 for the remaining 20% of the shares. KAI KF-X is an acronym for Korea Aerospace Industries: Korean Fighter - eXperimental, and IA IF-X stands for Indonesian Aerospace: Indonesian Fighter - eXperimental, describing the main project companies and the experimental nature of the program. The KAI KF-X is South Korea's second domestic fighter jet development program, following the FA-50.

United Arab Emirates Air Force Aerial warfare branch of the United Arab Emirates military

The United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAEAF) is the air force of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Its predecessor was established in 1968, when the Emirates were still under British rule. Since then, it has undergone a continual reorganisation and expansion in terms of both capability and numbers of aircraft. Currently, the UAEAF has around 4,000 personnel and operates approximately 573 fixed and rotorcraft.

Black Eagles aerobatic team the aerial acrobatic team of the Republic of Korea Air Force

The 53rd Air Demonstration Group, nicknamed Black Eagles, is the flight display team of the Republic of Korea Air Force based at Wonju AB, Gangwon Province.

T-X program US Air Force advanced trainer acquisition program

The T-X program has been established to enable the United States Air Force to buy a new two-seat jet trainer for fast-jet training to replace the Northrop T-38 Talon; the average age of the T-38 fleet is over 50 years. About 350 aircraft are expected to be ordered to replace the T-38, but further purchases could push the overall purchase to over 1,000. The notional in-service date for the replacement trainer was 2017, but shrinking budgets have pushed initial operating capability (IOC) to around 2023. The program was expected to begin in FY 2017.

Boeing KC-46 Pegasus Military aerial refueling and strategic military transport aircraft

The Boeing KC-46 Pegasus is a military aerial refueling and strategic military transport aircraft developed by Boeing from its 767 jet airliner. In February 2011, the tanker was selected by the United States Air Force (USAF) as the winner in the KC-X tanker competition to replace older Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers. The first aircraft was to be delivered to the Air Force in August 2017, but was delayed until 10 January 2019.

Gimhae Air Base Airbase in South Korea

Gimhae Air Base is a Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) base adjacent to Gimhae International Airport. Runway 18L/36R is used for military purposes only.

The F-X fighter program is a phased procurement program for fighter aircraft for the Republic of Korea Air Force. As of 2018 the air force has purchased 60 F-35 Lightning II fighters.


  1. "2018 Defence White Paper" (PDF). December 2018. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-01-16. Retrieved 2019-01-16.
  2. "공군가" (in Korean). Archived from the original on February 17, 2019. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  3. KY Karaoke (금영노래방 공식 유튜브 채널) (12 December 2014). "[KY 금영노래방] 군가 - 공군가 (KY Karaoke No.KY4574)". Archived from the original on 17 February 2019. Retrieved 2 September 2016 via YouTube.
  4. Larsen, Stanley; Collins, Lawton (1985). Allied Participation in Vietnam. Department of the Army. p. 131. ISBN   9781410225016.PD-icon.svgThis article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. "Korea Urged to Secure Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Systems". 20 October 2009. Archived from the original on 23 October 2009. Retrieved 20 October 2009.
  6. South Korea to obtain 40 F-35As Archived 2013-11-28 at the Wayback Machine -, 22 November 2013
  7. "South Korea's biggest-ever weapons buy: $7B for 40 F-35A jets". Archived from the original on 2014-09-25. Retrieved 2014-09-28.
  8. Brendan Sobie (3 August 2006). "South Korea selects Boeing 737-based AEW&C system over Gulfstream G550 platform". Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 28 January 2011.
  9. Seoul Plans Phased-Development, Typhoon-Size Fighter Archived 2013-10-31 at the Wayback Machine -, 29 April 2013
  10. Korea to begin development of mid-altitude UAV” [ permanent dead link ] -, June 14, 2013,
  11. "U.S. Congress approves the sale of four spy drones to S. Korea". 3 May 2013. Archived from the original on 17 December 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  12. "Korea rejected the U.S. Global Hawk UAV ?". Archived from the original on 15 June 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  13. Seoul finalises $657 million Global Hawk purchase Archived 2014-12-17 at the Wayback Machine -, 17 December 2014
  14. Air Force to acquire 4 aerial refueling tankers by 2019 Archived 2013-10-20 at the Wayback Machine -, 6 August 2013
  15. S. Korea To Extend Range of Jets With Aerial Tankers -, 12 August 2013
  16. South Korea To Open Bid for Aerial Tankers -, 18 October 2013
  17. IAI offers 767 conversions for South Korean tanker contest Archived 2014-07-14 at the Wayback Machine -, 30 June 2014
  18. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 "World Air Forces 2018". Flightglobal Insight. 2018. Archived from the original on 6 February 2018. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  19. "ROK Air Force". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  20. "WAF 2004 pg. 86". Flightglobal Insight. 2004. Archived from the original on 24 June 2015. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  21. "Sikorsky Delivers Three S-92 Helicopters to Korean Air Force". Archived from the original on 1 June 2015. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  22. "Seoul finalises $657 million Global Hawk purchase". 17 December 2014. Archived from the original on 16 October 2015. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  23. "World Air Forces 1955 pg. 648". Archived from the original on 20 August 2017. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  24. "World Air Forces 1973 pg. 152". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  25. "World Air Forces 1969 pg. 249". Archived from the original on 20 August 2017. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  26. "국가법령정보센터 - 법령 > 본문 - 공군방공포병사령부령". Archived from the original on 2014-12-17. Retrieved 2013-05-25.
  27. 1 2 Trade Registers Archived 2010-04-14 at the Wayback Machine . Retrieved on 6 October 2015