South Korea, US kick off large-scale air exercise amid North Korean warnings

Sergio Conner
December 8, 2017

The Chinese air force launched an exercise of their own concurrent to the enormous air drills being run by the US and South Korea, causing experts to speculate what, exactly, Beijing is trying to communicate to the West.

The danger, because of the bellicose statements emanating from the White House, is that North Korea could easily mistake an exercise as a prelude to an actual attack.

The runway at Kunsan was closed temporarily after an F-16C assigned to the 8th Fighter Wing "experienced a ground emergency affecting the integrity of its landing gear" while taxiing, Capt. Chris Mesnard, a spokesman for the fighter wing, said separately.

The bombers were dispatched from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam and flew over the Korean peninsula, reportedly staging simulated bombing drills while flying in formation with around 20 aircraft participating in the annual "Vigilant Ace" air combat drill.

Moscow also believes it is Washington's saber-rattling and regular military drills in the region that are "provoking Pyongyang into taking some rash action" after months of restraint, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said following the country's latest ballistic missile test. Threats from various U.S. officials are serving the same objective, Lavrov added.

The United States military and forces of South Korea have begun large scale air exercisesintended to portray a show of force to the North Koreans.

The Trump Administration does not seem to consider the North Korean dictator to be a rational actor, and therefore, seems to believe he can not be deterred.

North Korea has long spoken out against joint drills between the US and South Korea.

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The B-1B bomber and F-22 Raptors conducted simulated bombing drills, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported, quoting a statement from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, adding that several American F-35 stealth jets and F-16 fighters and South Korean F-15Ks and KF-16s joined the exercise at the Pilsung firing range in the northeastern Gangwon province.

It also labelled Trump, who has threatened to destroy North Korea if the United States is threatened, "insane".

Feltman, a former senior U.S. State Department official, is the highest-level United Nations official to visit North Korea since 2012.

China and Russian Federation have staged massive military drills in airspace and waters near the Korean Peninsula to counter a big U.S.

"If "freeze for freeze" is going to work, then North Korea has to accept the verification process", Woo said.

North Korea has vehemently criticised the drills since the weekend, saying the exercise precipitates US and South Korean "self-destruction". Feltman held talks with deputy foreign minister Pak Myong Gun on Wednesday.

It says its weapons programmes are a necessary defence against US plans to invade.

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