U.S. and South Korea Kick Off Major Air Exercises Amid Rising Tensions

Today, Monday, the United States and South Korea initiated significant air exercises, utilizing 130 aircraft from both nations to mimic round-the-clock combat operations. These yearly exercises, known as Vigilant Defense, are set to continue until Friday and will showcase different models of the F-35 stealth fighter from both countries, among other aircraft, according to the South Korean Air Force. 


The purpose of these drills is to enhance the interoperability of the two militaries by conducting key air missions such as live fire drills from air to surface, defensive counter-air operations, and other emergency training exercises. South Korea's military stated in a declaration that they will "preserve optimal combat readiness to instantly react to and severely retaliate against any enemy provocation through rigorous training that simulates a real-world scenario.

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"These exercises are taking place at a time when North Korea is intensifying its military collaboration with Russia, a move that the United States and its Asian allies have criticized as Pyongyang's attempt to bolster its military prowess in exchange for weapons support from Moscow. 


North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui expressed on Saturday that it was Pyongyang's "unwavering intention" to strengthen relations with Russia, stating that their relationship would serve as a "strong strategic" factor if regional security is threatened. North Korea has consistently criticized joint exercises between the United States and South Korea, viewing them as invasion rehearsals and evidence of hostile policies by Washington and Seoul.

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