US, South Korea air forces conduct joint air drills amid North Korea threat

South Korea air forces say 30 aircraft, including F-35As jets take part in drills.

US, South Korea air forces conduct joint air drills amid North Korea threat

The US and South Korea air forces conducted their first combined air drills involving F-35A stealth fighters as tension has been rising in the Korean Peninsula, local media said.

The US F-35As arrived in the South Korean capital Seoul last week to join the drills in the first public deployment of US stealth warplanes in the country since 2017, according to Yonhap News Agency.

South Korean air forces in a statement said some 30 aircraft, including South Korea's F-35A, F-15K, KF-16, and FA-50 jets, along with US' F-16 and F-35A jets joined the drill.

"The drills have been arranged to improve combined operational capabilities of the two countries through real-life training and strengthen the interoperability of the fifth-generation F-35As run by the countries," said the air force.

The four-day drills began on Monday.

The latest US F-35As jets' participation in a joint drill with the South Korean military came after an agreement by US President Joe Biden and his South Korean counterpart Yoon Suk-yeol in May as Biden announced to deploy America's strategic military assets "in a timely and coordinated manner as necessary."

Last year, North Korea strongly condemned the joint military drill between the US and South Korea held in March 2021.

The tension on the peninsula increased in 2020 when North Korea attacked and blew up the inter-Korean liaison office along the border. Seoul warned of a strong response if Pyongyang "further worsens the situation."

However, the tensions have further soared on the Korean Peninsula in 2021, when both Seoul and Pyongyang ramped up drills to show off their military might.

Last month, the US, South Korea, and Japan announced plans to bolster security ties and agreed to jointly counter threats from North Korea if Pyongyang carries out another nuclear test.

The US and South Korea extended several offers of dialogue to North Korea to ease current tensions in the Korean Peninsula but North Korea did not respond to the offers.

On May 27, China and Russia vetoed new UN Security Council sanctions that would have been imposed on North Korea in retaliation for its continued ballistic missile tests, which it conducts in violation of previous council resolutions.

Hüseyin Demir

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