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ibusinesslines.com July 17, 2018


United States and South Korea begin massive air exercises

08 December 2017, 09:28 | Erica Roy

United States and South Korea begin massive air exercises

United Nations political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman arrives at Beijing airport after his return from North Korea in Beijing China

Two dozen US stealth fighter jets took part in the drills, six of them F-22s, six of them F-35As, as well as a dozen F-35Bs, marking the first time the highly-advanced jets have cruised the skies above Korea at the same time.

China and Russian Federation have staged massive military drills in airspace and waters near the Korean Peninsula to counter a big U.S.

On Dec. 4, the USA and South Korea kicked off their largest joint air exercise yet, dubbed Vigilant Ace 18, involving hundreds of aircraft and tends of thousands of troops on the ground.

"In the event we need to help defend our 51 million Korean allies, I need to be sure the 51st Fighter Wing is synchronized with the Combined-Joint force", Col. William D. Betts, commander of the Osan, Korea-based 51st Fighter Wing-which flies the venerable Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon-said in a statement.

The annual joint exercise, called "Vigilant Ace", has been created to enhance readiness and operational capability and to ensure peace and security on the Korean peninsula, officials have said.

"The threat here on the peninsula is very real, and countering that threat needs to be in the forefront of our minds", Betts said.

Those areas overlap with Japanese and South Korean airspace.


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

During the Korean War that began in 1950 and is still technically ongoing, China came to the aid of the communist Northern Korean factions against the United States and their Southern allies, repaying the fledgling North's contribution to their own civil war, which the Chinese Communist Party had only won the previous year with Korean communist help.

The Trump Administration does not seem to consider the North Korean dictator to be a rational actor, and therefore, seems to believe he can not be deterred. The "realistic air combat exercise" also includes US Marine Corps and US Navy personnel, with a total of 230 aircraft at eight locations, according to Pacific Air Forces.

"And as you know, this is a regime that's never met a weapon that it hasn't proliferated".

Some analysts and diplomats hope Feltman's visit to the North could spark a United Nations -led effort to defuse rising global tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs. The exercises have been condemned as a provocation by the isolated North.

Officials in Pyongyang have described the exercises as the USA president "begging for a nuclear war".

Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for the National Interest.



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