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(LEAD) B-1B, F-22 jets hold attack drills in Korea

2017/12/06 14:17

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(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with S. Korea's announcement; CHANGES headline)

SEOUL, Dec. 6 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. Air Force's B-1B Lancer strategic bomber aircraft and F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets conducted simulated bombing drills in South Korea on Wednesday, a show of the allies' ability and resolve to retaliate against North Korea's provocations, the defense authorities here said.

Several F-35 stealth jets and F-16 fighters of the U.S., as well as F-15Ks and KF-16s of the South, joined the exercise at the Pilsung Firing Range in Gangwon Province, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

It was part of the annual Vigilant ACE air force practice, which started Monday for a five-day run.

Two dozen F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters of the U.S. are taking part in the exercise, along with more than 200 other warplanes of the two countries.

The fifth-generation jets are new to the Vigilant ACE practice.

"Through the exercise, the South Korean and U.S. air forces have demonstrated the alliance's strong will and capability for strong retaliation against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats," the JCS said.

The two sides also sharpened their readiness to deploy a "rapid response force" by improving the interoperability and the capability of carrying out combined operations in peace and wartime, it added.

A B-1B Lancer strategic bomber of the U.S. flies over Korea, flanked by South Korea's fighter jets in this undated file photo. (Yonhap) A B-1B Lancer strategic bomber of the U.S. flies over Korea, flanked by South Korea's fighter jets in this undated file photo. (Yonhap)

It's also unusual for the allies to make public the deployment of the B-1B aircraft, based at the Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, for the exercise.

But they did not reveal how many B-1Bs were dispatched.

The U.S. usually sends two B-1Bs to the peninsula either in the wake of North Korea's provocations in a show of force or on routine flight training missions.

A pair of B-1Bs were deployed to South Korea in early November days ahead of President Donald Trump's regional trip.

lcd@yna.co.kr

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