South Korea and the US launched their first main joint air drills in almost five years on Monday. The exercises, involving more than 240 warplanes, arrive at a time of heightened stress with North Korea, amid fears that Pyongyang can test another nuclear weapon.
The ‘ The Vigilant Storm’ exercise is expected to last throughout Friday and will see the application of about 140 South Korean planes, including state-of-the-art F-35A stealth fighters as well as F-15K and KF-16 jets.
Meanwhile, the US has sent around 100 aircraft, including F-35B fighters as well as a number of electronic warfare plus tanker planes, as well as U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft. The particular maneuvers will be also went to by Australia, which has deployed a KC-30A tanker transport.
South Korea and the US will perform about 1, 600 sorties, which will be “ the largest amount ever for this annual occasion, ” according to the US Surroundings Force. Meanwhile, the South Korean Air Force noted that the two sides “ will strengthen the functional and tactical capabilities” in order to “ deter and respond to North Korean provocations. ”
Such combined exercises were first kept in 2015, and were then called ‘ Vigilant Ace. ‘ However , they were suspended in 2018 since the administration of former Southern Korean President Moon Jae-in attempted to improve ties using the North.
The US-South Korean air drills come amid concerns within Washington that Pyongyang may conduct another nuclear test, after Pyongyang’s nuclear allows recently claimed they had successfully completed a simulated loading of tactical warheads in the hidden silo. In latest weeks, North Korea also carried out a series of weapons medical tests that involved ballistic missile launches.
Against this backdrop, the US, South Korea, and Japan have cautioned North Korea that it can face an “ unparalleled” response if it tests an additional nuke. The last time it detonated an atomic bomb was in September 2017.
Pyongyang has condemned the joint drills, describing them as a rehearsal to have an invasion and proof that will Washington and Seoul are usually pursuing hostile policies. Pyongyang maintains that any military exercises around the Korean Peninsula that involve the US are a threat to its safety.
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