US sends F-35 fighters to South Korea for joint maneuvers
Seoul, Jul 5 (EFE).- Several United States F-35 stealth fighters arrived Tuesday in South Korea to participate in joint maneuvers with the country’s military, the first time this type of aircraft from the Pentagon flies to the peninsula in five years, the armies of both countries reported.
It is the first time since December 2017 – when both countries carried out their Vigilant Ace exercise in the midst of escalating tensions with North Korea – that the US has sent fifth-generation fighters to the area.
The six aircraft arrived from the Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, according to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff and the US forces deployed in South Korea in separate statements.
The aircraft will participate in exercises with other US and South Korean aircraft, including South Korean F-35s, until Jul. 14.
The maneuvers seek to enhance the “interoperability of the two Air Forces to fly on and around the Korean peninsula,” the US said.
This deployment comes after US President Joe Biden pledged at his May summit with South Korean counterpart Yoon Suk-yeol to deploy US strategic assets to South Korea “in a timely and coordinated manner as needed” amid North Korea’s actions.
Seoul and Washington consider Pyongyang has been preparing for weeks to carry out its first nuclear test since 2017 and that its execution depends exclusively on an order from leader Kim Jong-un.
North Korea, completely cut off from the outside world by the pandemic since 2020, has ignored calls from South Korea or the US to resume stalled talks on denuclearization.
Last year it approved a weapons modernization plan that is behind the record number of projectile 19 tests it has carried out this yeaR and the preparations, captured since February, for a new atomic test. EFE