US F-22 stealth warplanes land in South Korea
Iran Press TV
Wed Feb 17, 2016 5:12PM
In a move that is slated to further fuel tensions in the Korean peninsula, the US has flown four advanced F-22 Raptor fighter jets to South Korea, amid a standoff with North Korea over its nuclear and missile tests.
The Raptors, capable of flying past radars undetected, landed at Osan Air Base near Seoul on Wednesday, marking a clear show of force against Pyongyang, a day after Seoul warned of the North's collapse.
Describing the aircraft as "the most capable air superiority fighter in the world," Lieutenant General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, deputy commander of the US military command in South Korea, said in a statement that the US maintained an "ironclad commitment" to defend its ally in the peninsula.
The F-22s were flown from their base in Okinawa in Japan but US military officials have yet to say how long the jets will stay in South Korea.
Deployment of powerful US aircraft to South Korea in times of tension with North Korea is not unprecedented, as in January a nuclear-capable B-52 bomber were sent to the region in the wake of Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test.
The move comes shortly after America deployed an additional Patriot missile battery at Osan Air Base, stirring speculations that the two countries are working on a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system deployment in South Korea.
The current standoff between the two Koreas flared after North Korea carried out a nuclear test last month, followed by a long-range rocket launch in early February.
The country declared itself a nuclear power in 2005 and carried out several nuclear weapon tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013.
Seoul, in response, shut down an inter-Korean factory park that had been the two nations' last major symbol of cooperation, arguing it had been used by Pyongyang to fund its nuclear and missile programs.
In a parliament speech Tuesday, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Seoul would take "stronger and more effective" measures to make North Korea realize its nuclear ambitions will result only in accelerating its "regime collapse."
On Friday, the US House of Representatives passed legislation which would impose tougher sanctions on North Korea.
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