all eyes on the korean peninsula
The U.S. and South Korea begin massive joint air force exercises amid growing North Korea tensions
On Monday, hundreds of U.S. and South Korean military aircraft began a five-day joint air force exercise in South Korea, just days after North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile that can probably reach anywhere in the United States. The U.S. Seventh Air Force said the annual fall exercises were not a response to any incident or provocation from Pyongyang, but the U.S. sent an unusually large number of latest-generation stealth fighters: six F-22s and 18 F-35s. In all, 12,000 U.S. military personnel will be involved in the drill, called Vigilant Ace, and 230 aircraft will take part.
North Korea, which usually protests U.S.-South Korean war games, said Sunday this drill pushes the Korean Peninsula "to the brink of nuclear war" and Pyongyang will "seriously consider" countermeasures. "While many South Koreans typically ignore North Korea's rhetoric, some senior American officials have expressed worry following the ICBM test," The Associated Press says. On Fox News, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster suggested that pre-emptive war might end up being the only way to stop "this murderous, rogue regime" from conquering South Korea. Some 28,000 U.S. military service members work in South Korea, and many have their families with them. You can watch some of the aircraft in action in the AP video below. Peter Weber