US, South Korea Begin Massive Military ExercisesBy Scott Neuman, KUOW News and Information Home
The United States and South Korea launched a massive joint military air exercise on Monday amid increased tensions with North Korea over its nuclear program and recent ballistic missile tests.
The five-day Vigilant Ace exercise includes some 12,000 military personnel and 230 aircraft – including six F-22 and 18 F-35s, both with stealth capabilities. South Korean media said B-1 bombers would also participate in the exercise, but the Air Force declined to confirm that.
As NPR’s Elise Hu reports from Seoul, “These exercises come just a week after North Korea tested what analysts believe is its most powerful missile yet, one that has the capability of reaching much of the continental United States. South Korea’s defense ministry says the drills were planned before the missile test. But exercises on the peninsula often draw the ire of North Korea, which views these drills as provocations.”
Earlier, Pyongyang had said of the exercise, in its third year, would bring the Korean peninsula “to the brink of war.”