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Iran Press TV

In show of force, US to send F-22 jets to South Korea

Iran Press TV

Fri Nov 24, 2017 07:38AM

The US will send six F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets to South Korea in a new show of force aimed at Pyongyang, amid heightened tensions over North Korea's missile and nuclear programs.

"Six F-22 fighters from the US Air Force are scheduled to join the joint South Korea-US exercise Vigilant Ace from December 4-8," South Korean military officials told Yonhap.

The fighters will fly to the Korean Peninsula from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan and stay at an air base in South Korea throughout the exercise, according to officials.

Up to four F-35A Lightning stealth fighters are also likely to join the deployment, they said.

This would mark the first time the US has deployed six Raptors to Korea at once.

Local media reported that the US aircraft will engage in precision strike drills with South Korean Air Force fighter jets.

The Vigilant Ace drill is held regularly by the US and South Korea to simulate wartime operations.

The move comes as the US pushes what President Donald Trump has called a "maximum pressure campaign" against the North's nuclear program.

Further escalating tensions, on Monday US President Donald Trump declared North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, a move designed to punish the Asian nation over its nuclear and missile programs.

North Korea denounced the decision, saying the move amounts to a "serious provocation" that justifies Pyongyang's development of nuclear weapons.

Experts have warned that blacklisting North Korea would have limited practical effect but makes finding a diplomatic solution to the standoff more difficult.

Meanwhile, the international push for a diplomatic solution took another blow on Tuesday, when the Trump administration imposed a series of new sanctions on a number of North Korean shipping firms as well as Chinese companies.

The move has infuriated China, which is North Korea's main trading partner.

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