Americas, Asia - Pacific

US, South Korea to kick off air drills on Monday

12-day exercise aims to counter North Korea's 'evolving military threats,' says statement

16.04.2023 - Update : 16.04.2023
US, South Korea to kick off air drills on Monday


South Korea and the US are set to kick off a "large-scale" joint air exercise later this week to step up deterrence against North Korea's "evolving military threats," the East Asian country's air force announced on Sunday.

The 12-day drill, Korea Flying Training, will begin on Monday at the Gwangju Air Base, 267 kilometers (166 miles) south of Seoul, mobilizing some 110 aircraft and more than 1,400 troops, according to a statement from the South Korea Air Force.

Seoul plans to deploy some 60 warplanes, including the F-35A, F-15K, and KF-16 fighters and the KC-330 tanker transport aircraft, while the US will mobilize more than 40 aircraft, such as F-16 fighters, A-10 attack aircraft, and the Marine Corps' F-35B and FA-18 jets, the local Yonhap news agency reported.

The drills will be focusing on enhancing the interoperability and combined operational capability of the allies' advanced fourth- and fifth-generation fighters, such as the F-15K and radar-evading F-35 aircraft, said the statement.

It added that the allies will train for strike package flight, defensive counter-air, and close air support, and other operations during the exercise.

The announcement came a day after the US, South Korea, and Japan agreed to hold regular joint military drills to counter threats from North Korea.

They also warned North Korea against further nuclear tests, urging it to return to the negotiations.

On Thursday, North Korean state-run media claimed that Pyongyang launched a new solid-fueled Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) to "suppress invasions, and protect the safety of the nation."

Later on Friday, US and South Korean forces launched joint air exercises involving the B-52H bomber, F-35A radar-evading fighter, and F-15K jet, while Washington deployed F-16 fighters, as well.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have risen again, with North Korea launching dozens of missiles in a series of weapons tests last year, including ICBMs.

Last week, North Korea confirmed that it conducted another underwater nuclear attack drone test.

Earlier, the country had tested a new underwater nuclear weapon capable of creating a super-scale radioactive tsunami during three days of military exercises in late March.

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