F-35B stealth fighter makes aerial refueling
SEOUL, March 19 (Yonhap) -- A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B stealth fighter stationed in Japan conducted an in-flight refueling last week, expanding its radius of operations, the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) said Sunday.
A U.S. Air Force refueling squadron based in Okinawa, Japan, conducted the F-35B Lightning II fighter's refueling mission over the western Pacific Ocean, according to the USFK.
The refueling vastly extends the fighter jet's ability to stay in the air, enabling it to carry out key missions over the Korean Peninsula if the need arises.
The latest stealth fighter in Washington's military arsenal will take part in the ongoing Foal Eagle joint exercise with South Korea to hone its strike capabilities this month.
The F-35B Lightning II fighter is expected to carry out ground attack maneuvers during the two-month-long exercise between Seoul and Washington.
The first F-35B squadron was deployed to Iwakuni, Japan, in January.
The F-35B, which is capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings, is regarded by the U.S. military as a strategic asset that can be employed to hit well-defended key targets in North Korea.
The stealth fighter can reach speeds of up to Mach 1.6 and has a radar system that is capable of detecting a target up to 500 kilometers away.
An F-35B is being refueled in midair by a tanker. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. 7th Air Force) (Yonhap)