SEOUL, Feb. 4 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea and the United States on Friday staged combined air drills, involving U.S. F-22 and F-35B stealth fighters, in a show of America’s “invariable will and capability” to keep its security commitment to the Asian ally, the South Korean Air Force said.
The allies conducted the drills over the Yellow Sea, just two days after they staged air maneuvers, involving B-1B strategic bombers and F-22 and F-35B jets from the U.S. military. In both drills, the South deployed its F-35A jets.
“The combined drills this time were conducted with the goal of improving combined operational capabilities and interoperability between the Air Forces of South Korea and the U.S.,” the armed service said in a statement.
“It demonstrates the U.S.’ invariable will and capability to carry out its defense commitment to South Korea,” it added.
“While maintaining a solid combined defense posture, the South Korean and U.S. Air Forces will continue to strengthen combined drills to acquire strong response capabilities and posture against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.”
The exercise comes a day after the North warned it would “take the toughest reaction” to any military action by the U.S. under the principle of “nuke for nuke and an all-out confrontation for an all-out confrontation.”
During his visit to Seoul earlier this week, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said there would be more deployments of advanced military assets to ensure U.S.’ security commitment.
The drills over the Yellow Sea — not far from Chinese shores — also raised speculation that they were intended in part to put pressure on Beijing to do more to rein in North Korean provocations, observers said.