Tue, Dec 05, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Stealth jets take part in US-South Korean exercises

‘VIGILANT ACE’:The five-day drill includes a large number of the US Air Force’s F-22 and F-35 jets, and encompasses eight military bases in the South

AP, SEOUL

A handout photograph made available by the US Air Force yesterday shows US Air Force F-16s and F-35As assigned to the 34th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron Hill Air Force Base in Utah taxing at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea on Sunday.

Photo: EPA / US Air Force

Hundreds of aircraft, including two dozen stealth jets, yesterday began training as the US and South Korea launched a massive combined air force exercise.

The war games come a week after North Korea test-fired its most powerful missile ever, an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that might be able to target east coast of the US.

The five-day drill, called Vigilant Ace, is meant to improve the allies’ wartime capabilities and preparedness, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense said.

The US 7th Air Force sent major strategic military assets, including an unusually large number of the latest generations of stealth fighter jets, for the annual training in the Korean Peninsula.

They include six F-22 and 18 F-35 stealth fighter jets.

In total, 230 aircraft will be flying from eight US and South Korean military installations in South Korea.

Some South Korean media reported that B-1B bombers would also join aerial drills, but officials did not confirm their participation.

The training, held each year in late fall, is not in response to any incident or provocation, the Seventh Air Force said in a statement.

North Korean state media, in typical language, said the drill pushes the Korean Peninsula “to the brink of nuclear war.”

Pyongyang would “seriously consider” taking countermeasures against the drill, and the US and South Korea would “pay dearly for their provocations,” the Korean Central News Agency said on Sunday.

In Beijing, Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) told a news briefing that it was “regrettable” that all parties had not “grasped the window of opportunity” presented by two months of relative calm before the North’s most recent test.

The People Liberation Army’s Air Force also said that its surveillance aircraft had recently conducted drills in the Yellow Sea and East China Sea to “improve combat-readiness and safeguard the … strategic interests” of China.

The aircraft took a flight path not previously flown to regions they had never previously operated in, and coordinated with fighter jets, alert aircraft and guided missile forces, spokesman Shen Jinke (申進科) said, according to a post on the Chinese air force’s official microblog.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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