Six US Air Force F-35As from Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska arrived in South Korea on Tuesday and will fly alongside the host nation’s F-35s in a series of exercises ending July 14, the two countries’ military said.
“This deployment aims to increase interoperability (of our air force) while demonstrating the alliance’s strong deterrence and cooperative defensive stance,” the South Korean defense ministry said in a statement.
A South Korean spokesman said this was the first time that the two allies’ stealth fighters have worked together.
Experts say stealth fighters capable of evading Pyongyang’s radar will be vital in any action against North Korea.
“Given the growing threat posed by (North Korea), both leaders agree to initiate discussions to expand the scope of joint military exercises and exercises in and around the Korean Peninsula,” the White House said after the meeting between the two presidents. “Both leaders also reaffirm the US commitment to the timely and coordinated deployment of US strategic military forces as needed.”
The US military said the US F-35s will operate alongside other US aircraft during their deployment, without giving details.
But the main thing is working with South Korean F-35s.
The F-35 is one of the most advanced fighter jets in the world. The United States operates hundreds of aircraft in three configurations: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing used by the Air Force; Marine Corps F-35Bs that can land vertically; and an F-35C configured for carrier-based operations.
Like the US Air Force, the South Korean Air Force uses the F-35A, the first aircraft of which was delivered by Lockheed Martin in 2018. In the spring of this year, a fleet of 40 fifth-generation aircraft was fully put into operation.
On March 25, the day after one of Pyongyang’s missile tests, Seoul staged an “elephant ride” of its F-35 fleet, lining up all the planes simultaneously on the runway in a display of power.
“Using the F-35A stealth fighters, an invisible force capable of infiltrating and delivering precision strikes, we will achieve an overwhelming strategic victory and maintain a complete military position that will deter North Korea’s further actions,” then Defense Minister Seo Wook said. while walking with elephants.
The warplanes were part of a massive annual U.S.-South Korean exercise called Vigilant Ace, which was later canceled under the Donald Trump administration as the then U.S. president tried to convince North Korean Kim Jong-un to abandon his nuclear missile programs.
After three meetings between Trump and Kim failed to reach an agreement, North Korea stepped up its missile program. The US and South Korea fear that Pyongyang may soon attempt to test a nuclear weapon, something it has not done since 2017.