South Korea and US to stage epic drill with hundreds of war planes next month

F-22 Raptor stealth fighters will be involved in next month’s drill [REUTERS/Toby Melville]

South Korea and the US are to deploy Raptor fighter planes in a joint air drill next month.

A South Korean defence ministry official told Reuters that the drill, known as Vigilant Ace, will run from 4-8 December.

This simulated wartime defence is held regularly by the two countries, using F-35 aircraft alongside the F-22 Raptor fighters.

The US Seventh Air Force confirmed in a statement that the drill will involve 12,000 US personnel and 230 aircraft, which will be flown at eight US and South Korean military installations. US Marine Corps and Navy troops will also be involved.

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The Seventh Air Force said that this “realistic combat exercise is designed to enhance interoperability between US and Republic of Korea forces and increase the combat effectiveness of both nations”.

North Korea is known to be unhappy with these joint drills, which it sees as an act of aggression. The secretive state continues to work on its nuclear and missile program, however.

It was reported by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency yesterday (Thursday) that the country is considering scrapping these drills next year, for fear of reprisals from North Korea during the Winter Olympics.

The Games are due to be held in Pyeongchang in February, followed by the Paralympics in March.

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