US and South Korean forces began their major five-day joint air drills on Monday amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
South Koreans in national mourning for the victims of the human stampede
About 240 aircraft are participating in the exercises. South Korea has deployed about 140 aircraft, including F-35A stealth fighters and F-15K and KF-16, while US warplanes, as well as KC-135 tankers and large U-2 height reconnaissance aircraft.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), General Kim Seung-kyum, called for “full readiness” this Monday against possible threats from North Korea.
Kim was inspecting a key command post for air operations amid ongoing major joint air exercises with the United States.
The combined air drills were first held in 2015, then suspended by then-President Moon Jae-in’s administration in 2018 as part of efforts for inter-Korean reconciliation.
On this occasion, the Australian Air Force also participates in the exercises.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have risen further following South Korea’s recent military exercises and North Korea’s missile tests.
On Friday, Pyongyang launched another “unspecified” ballistic missile just as South Korea was set to wrap up its annual 12-day Hoguk field exercise, local media reported, citing a military statement.