Published: Mon, December 04, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

United States, South Korea start massive air force drills

United States, South Korea start massive air force drills

The allies plan to kick off the five-day VIGILANT ACE 18 practice Monday, which would demonstrate their combined air power against North Korea.

The F-22 fighter has been described by the U.S. Air Force as its "newest fighter aircraft", with "a significant capability to attack surface targets".

The 5-day drill, dubbed Vigilant Ace, will involve more than 230 warplanes from both sides, including 6 U.S. F-22 Raptors, and 6 F-35s - some of the air forces' most advanced fighter jets.

"The exercise is held annually".

The joint exercise is created to enhance readiness and operational capability and to ensure peace and security on the Korean peninsula, the US military had said before the drills began.

The North, which considers such annual exercises as a rehearsal by the U.S. for an actual invasion, has already heaped scorn on the drill.

Pyongyang will "seriously consider" countermeasures against the drill, and the US and South Korea will "pay dearly for their provocations", the Korean Central News Agency said on Sunday before the start of the exercises.


Around 12,000 USA service members, including from the Marines and Navy, will join South Korean troops.

South Korean media reports said B-1B Lancer bombers could join the exercise this week.

South Korean officials insisted the exercise is only for the defensive purposes.

Always bad tensions are at a particularly risky point as North Korea edges toward its goal of a viable arsenal of nuclear-tipped long-range missiles, and president Donald Trump uses aggressive rhetoric toward the North, threatening, for instance, "fire and fury" toward the country.

Days after the air force exercise was announced, North Korea test-launched its new Hwasong-15 missile, which it claims is capable of reaching the whole United States mainland.

"Should the Korean peninsula and the world be embroiled in the crucible of nuclear war because of the reckless nuclear war mania of the USA, the US will have to accept full responsibility for it", the statement read.

"The realistic air combat exercise is created to enhance interoperability between U.S. and Republic of Korea forces and increase the combat effectiveness of both nations", the U.S. Seventh Air Force said in a press release.

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