US, South Korea Fly Warplanes in Drills02/23 06:38
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- South Korea and the United States flew advanced
stealth fighters in a joint missile-interception drill Friday over the Korean
Peninsula, South Korea's air force said, an apparent response to a spate of
weapons tests this year by rival North Korea.
North Korea has conducted six rounds of missile tests so far this year, most
of them reportedly involving cruise missiles that typically fly at a low
altitude to overcome opponents' missile defenses. Analysts say that in the
event of a conflict, North Korea aims to use cruise missiles to strike U.S.
aircraft carriers as well as U.S. military bases in Japan.
South Korea's air force said in a statement the drill on Friday involved
fifth-generation stealth F-35A fighter jets from both countries and other
fighter jets from South Korea. It said the U.S. F-35As were deployed in South
Korea on Wednesday from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan.
North Korea has ramped up its weapons tests since 2022 in what experts call
an attempt to increase its leverage in future diplomacy. South Korea and the
U.S. have responded by expanding their military exercises and a trilateral
training involving Japan.
On the sidelines of a G20 meeting in Rio De Janeiro on Thursday, the top
diplomats from South Korea, the U.S. and Japan agreed to strengthen their joint
response capability against North Korea's evolving nuclear threats and
coordinate to block the North's financing of its nuclear program, according to
South Korea's Foreign Ministry.
This year, North Korea is expected to step up its testing activities and
belligerent rhetoric as both the U.S and South Korea head into elections. North
Korea is likely seeking international recognition as a nuclear state, a status
that experts say the North thinks would help it receive relief from U.S.-led
North Korea's advancing nuclear arsenal has likely emboldened its stance,
and there are concerns that the North may launch a limited military provocation
against the South. Observers say a full-scale attack is unlikely as the North
is outgunned by more superior U.S. and South Korean forces.
U.S. and South Korean officials have repeatedly warned that any nuclear
attack by North Korea against them would spell the end of the North's
government led by Kim Jong Un.