S. Korea, US abruptly resume joint air exercises that had been suspended in 2019

Posted on : 2020-04-24 17:45 KST Modified on : 2020-04-24 17:45 KST
Move seen as response to N. Korea’s recent missile launches
A fighter jet in the South Korean Air Force’s 1st Fighter Wing takes off from a base in Gwangju in 2018. (Yonhap News)
A fighter jet in the South Korean Air Force’s 1st Fighter Wing takes off from a base in Gwangju in 2018. (Yonhap News)

South Korea and the US abruptly went ahead with joint air exercises that had been postponed in 2019.

On Apr. 23, a South Korean military official said the South Korean and US Air Forces “have been conducting joint air exercises at the squadron level since Apr. 20,” adding that the exercises were “scheduled to take place through Apr. 24.” The unannounced execution of the exercises after they had been temporarily suspended last year to establish a favorable climate for North Korea-US denuclearization negotiations is seen as likely to be meant as a warning message in response to North Korea’s recent string of missile launches.

The aircraft participating in the exercises reportedly include F-15K and KF-16 fighters from the South Korean Air Force and F-16 fighters from the US Air Force. Sources explained that the recently acquired F-35A stealth aircraft was not included because its qualification trials have not been completed, adding that it had not been integrated with other overseas US forces either.

Describing the exercises as “regular annual joint exercises to improve the South Korea-US alliance’s joint operation execution capabilities,” a South Korean Air Force official said they were “similar to past years in terms of participating forces, duration, and the scale of the exercises.”

South Korean Minister of National Defense Jeong Kyeong-doo and US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper previously decided to postpone the joint exercises while meeting at the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus in Thailand last November. At the time, Esper explained the decision by calling it an “act of goodwill to contribute to an environment conducive to diplomacy and the advancement of peace.” But North Korea has engaged in a number of provocations this year, including five launches of short-range missiles and other projectiles.

By Park Byong-su, senior staff writer

Please direct comments or questions to [english@hani.co.kr]

button that move to original korean article (클릭시 원문으로 이동하는 버튼)

Related stories

Most viewed articles