US to send six F-22 fighters to S.Korea
Seoul, Nov 24 (IANS) The US will send six F-22 Raptor fighters for joint air force maneuvers with South Korea in December, a defence spokesperson said here on Friday.
The aircraft will fly as part of the joint South Korea-US air force “Vigilant Ace” exercise between December 4 and 8, the spokesperson told Efe news.
According to South Korean media, this marks the first time that the US has deployed six F-22 Raptor fighters at the same time on the Korean peninsula. Washington had already deployed three nuclear-powered aircraft carriers near North Korean waters for the first time in a decade earlier this month.
The F-22 fighter jets, which are capable of executing precision attacks under the radar, will depart for the drill from the Kadena Air Base on the Japanese island of Okinawa and will stay at a US base in South Korea during the exercise.
Up to four F-35 Lighting stealth fighters are also likely to join the bi-annual exercise, which simulates their defensive strategies in the event of war, according to Yonhap news agency.
The deployment of six fighters on the peninsular is part of an agreement signed between Washington and Seoul, which aims at expanding “rotational deployment” of US strategic assets on the Korean peninsula and pressuring North Korea to drop its nuclear programme.