US to send F-22 jets to South Korea in show of force for Pyongyang
SEOUL – Agence France-Presse
Six fighter jets, normally based in Okinawa, Japan, will be deployed to the South for a five-day joint military exercise, Vigilant Ace, starting December 4, local media reported.
A South Korean Air Force spokesman said an “unspecified number” of F-22s would take part in the drill.
A U.S. Air Force spokesman declined to give details.
Local media reported that the U.S. aircraft will engage in precision strike drills with South Korean Air Force fighter jets.
The move comes as the U.S. pushes what President Donald Trump has called a “maximum pressure campaign” against the North’s nuclear program.
Earlier this month, two B-1B US supersonic bombers overflew the Korean peninsula as part of a joint exercise with Japanese and South Korean warplanes.
This was followed by a joint naval drill involving three US aircraft carriers and seven South Korean warships in the first such triple-carrier exercise in the region for a decade.
North Korea in July launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles apparently capable of reaching the US mainland -- which were described by the country’s leader Kim Jong-Un as a gift to “American bastards.”
It followed up with two missiles that passed over Japan, and its sixth nuclear test in September -- by far its most powerful yet.
Trump on Nov. 20 declared North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism, adding the country back onto a U.S. blacklist Pyongyang was taken off nearly a decade ago.
The U.S. also unveiled fresh sanctions that target North Korean shipping, raising the pressure on the Pyongyang in a bid to make it abandon its nuclear programme.