U.S. to send F-22 jets to South Korea in show of force for Pyongyang


SEOUL, South Korea – The US will send F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets to South Korea for a joint drill, reports said Friday, November 24, in a new show of force aimed at Pyongyang.

Six fighter jets, normally based in Okinawa, Japan, will be deployed to the South for a 5-day joint military exercise, Vigilant Ace, starting December 4, local media reported.

A South Korean Air Force spokesman said an "unspecified number" of F-22s would take part in the drill.

A US Air Force spokesman declined to give details.

Local media reported that the US aircraft will engage in precision strike drills with South Korean Air Force fighter jets.

The move comes as the US pushes what President Donald Trump has called a "maximum pressure campaign" against the North's nuclear program.

Earlier this month, two B-1B US supersonic bombers overflew the Korean peninsula as part of a joint exercise with Japanese and South Korean warplanes.

This was followed by a joint naval drill involving 3 US aircraft carriers and 7 South Korean warships in the first such triple-carrier exercise in the region for a decade.

North Korea in July launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles apparently capable of reaching the US mainland – which were described by the country's leader Kim Jong-Un as a gift to "American bastards".

It followed up with two missiles that passed over Japan, and its 6th nuclear test in September – by far its most powerful yet.

Trump on Monday, November 20 declared North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism, adding the country back onto a US blacklist Pyongyang was taken off nearly a decade ago.

The US also unveiled fresh sanctions that target North Korean shipping, raising the pressure on the Pyongyang in a bid to make it abandon its nuclear program.

Trump said that the terror designation and new sanctions are part of a series of moves over the next two weeks to reinforce his "maximum pressure campaign" against Kim Jong-Un's regime.

Pyongyang condemned the listing as a "serious provocation" on Wednesday, November 22, warning that sanctions would never force it to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

China, the North's sole ally, also rejected as "wrong" new US sanctions, which target Chinese companies doing business with the pariah state.

Russia said Thursday, November 23, that the US decision to add North Korea to its terror blacklist was a "PR move" that could allow the situation on the peninsula to escalate into a global "catastrophe". – Rappler.com