One day after six F-22s arrived at Gwangju Air Base, several local military sources said the F-35A Lightening II as well as the EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft arrived either at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi, or Kunsan Air Base in North Jeolla by Sunday
One day after six F-22s arrived at Gwangju Air Base, media reports from South Korean news outlets say the U.S. Air Force (USAF) has deployed several F-35As to South Korea on Dec. 3.
U.S. Navy EA-18Gs are also said to have arrived in the peninsular and the U.S. military aircraft are taking part in exercise Vigilant Ace which begins today.
According to Korea JoongAng Daily, the show of force comes on the heels of a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) North Korea test-fired into the East Sea last Wednesday. Local military officials later admitted that the missile, the Hwasong-15, was capable of targeting the entire U.S. mainland if it were fired at an angle to optimize its range.
Six F-22 Raptors, stealth tactical fighter jets, landed at Gwangju Air Base last Saturday. Neither the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) nor the USAF has officially announced what other aircraft will arrive, but several local military sources said the F-35A Lightening II as well as the EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft arrived either at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi, or Kunsan Air Base in North Jeolla by Sunday, and began training.
The lineup for Vigilant Ace 18 is also known to include the F-16C Fighting Falcon fighter jet, E-3 Sentry airborne early warning and control aircraft, EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft and B-1B Lancer bomber.
Twelve F-35B Lightening IIs from U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) VMFA-121 will fly in from Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, Japan, for the exercise, but won’t land on South Korean soil, according to a local military official.
12,000 personnel from the USAF, USMC and U.S. Navy are expected to take part in the exercise.
ROKAF planes participating include the F-15K, KF-16 and F-5 fighter jets, FA-50 light fighter, KA-1 light attack aircraft and E-737 early warning and control aircraft.
The allies will practice targeting key North Korean nuclear and missile facilities.
Washington once again nudged Beijing to do more to rein in Pyongyang, with the White House national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, telling Saturday that the potential for war with North Korea was “increasing every day.”
He said, “We are in a race, really, we are in a race to be able to solve this problem,” adding, “China has tremendous coercive economic power over North Korea. I mean, you can’t shoot a missile without fuel.”
The security adviser said he and President Donald Trump thought that a 100 percent oil embargo on the North was necessary at this point.
The Global Times, a Chinese state-run tabloid, put it bluntly in an op-ed last Friday it had no intentions to make such a move.
“Whatever North Korea did, it is wrong to impose a full trade embargo or to sever ties with the country,” the article read. “China has no obligation to cooperate with the U.S. on this impractical idea.”
Photo credit: R. Nial Bradshaw and Sgt. 1st Class Joel Gibson / U.S. Air Force
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com