Four U.S. F-22 stealth fighter aircraft conducted exercises with South Korean jets south of Seoul on Wednesday to “demonstrate the capabilities” of the U.S.-South Korean alliance, the Pentagon said.
The high-tech “Raptor” jets, designed to elude radar, flew alongside Korea’s F-15K “Slam Eagle” aircraft and U.S. F-16 “Fighting Falcon” fighter jets out of Osan Air Base. The military show of strength came 10 days after North Korea fired a long-range rocket launch that drew international consternation. Last month, North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test.
North Korea’s military activity has drawn strong condemnation from South Korean President Park Geun-hye. Last week she shut down South Korean activities at the jointly-run Kaesong industrial estate in North Korea, which depended on the program as a source of badly needed hard currency. In a speech Tuesday before South Korea’s National Assembly, she warned that Pyongang could face “regime collapse” if it does not curtail its nuclear and missile programs.
“It has become clear that we cannot break North Korea’s will to develop nuclear weapons through existing means and goodwill,” she said. “It’s time to find a fundamental solution for bringing practical change in North Korea and to show courage in putting that into action.”
Park said her government will take additional measures to make certain Pyongyang understands it cannot survive continued nuclear development. The military exercises Wednesday reflected her resolve.
Lt. Gen. Terrence O’Shaugnessy, deputy commander for U.S. forces in Korea, said the mission demonstrated the resolve of both nations to maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula.
“The F-22 ‘Raptor’ is the most capable air superiority fighter in the world, and it represents one of many capabilities available for the defense of this great nation,” she said at a joint news conference with South Korean military officials. “The U.S. maintains an ironclad commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea.”
South Korea Air Force Lt. Gen. Lee Wang-keon said the two nation’s “remain ready to deter North Korean threats, and are postured to defeat them with the strength of our combined air combat capability.”
SOURCE: John Bacon