The U.S. has sent six F-22 stealth fighter jets to the Korean Peninsula to prepare for a joint drill with South Korea this week, in a huge show of force against North Korea – despite warnings from the country led by dictator Kim Jong Un.
And, there are plans to send more aircraft, including F-35A and F-35B stealth jets, F-16C fighter planes and B-1B bombers, according to a report from South Korean Yonhap News Agency. This is the largest military aerial drill in history.
“The South Korean Air Force will dispatch F-15K, KF-16 and F-5 fighter jets and other planes for the exercises with about 230 aircraft at eight U.S. and South Korean military installations being mobilized,” it reported. “The allies plan to stage simulated attacks on mock North Korean nuclear and missile targets and transporter erector launchers that move the North’s missiles, [the South Korean Air Force] said.”
“Vigilant Ace” exercises are slated to kick off Monday and go through Friday.
This comes after North Korea last week launched a new Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that it claims was the “most powerful” to date. Experts and officials have since said the latest launch shows that North Korean missiles could reach anywhere in the world.
The ICBM was launched Tuesday from Sain Ni and traveled more than 600 miles before crashing into the Sea of Japan, within Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The ICBM was in flight for more than 50 minutes.
The BBC reported that, based on its trajectory, the missile could have traveled more than 8,000 miles, which means it could reach “any part of the continental United States.”
“But it seems likely, the analysis adds, that the missile had a very light mock warhead, meaning it might lack the power to carry a nuclear payload, which is much heavier, over that distance,” the BBC pointed out. “North Korea, however, says the Hwasong-15 could reach mainland US carrying a ‘super-large heavy warhead.’”
The missile launch defied international sanctions on the country led by dictator Kim Jong Un, and it drew ire across the globe, as this was the highest missile North Korea has ever launched – reaching nearly 2,800 miles at its highest.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the missile test went “higher, frankly, than any previous shot they have taken,” and that North Korea can hit “everywhere in the world, basically.”
North Korea had not tested a missile in more than two months – odd, considering the regime led by dictator Kim Jong Un has conducted now-16 missile tests this year alone, and also launched a nuclear bomb.
North Korea in early September conducted its sixth ever successful nuclear missile launch and claims that the country now has a Hydrogen bomb it can place on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
The most recent North Korean missile test was on Sept. 14, when North Korea launched an intermediate-range missile over Japan into the Pacific Ocean.