Two dozen US stealth fighter jets took part in the drills, six of them F-22s, six of them F-35As, as well as a dozen F-35Bs, marking the first time the highly-advanced jets have cruised the skies above Korea at the same time.
Bad weather and a temporary runway closure forced the Air Force to move USA fighter jets and Warthogs to a South Korean base Thursday during joint war games that have raised tensions with North Korea. USA and Korean forces have been preparing the for Vigilant Ace for weeks.
Japan is said to have expressed interest in Lockheed Martin's Joint Air-to-Surface Missile, which can strike targets on the Korean peninsula from 600 miles away.
The exercise marks the second time this week that the United States has dispatched the aircraft as part of Vigilant Ace.
"The threat here on the peninsula is very real, and countering that threat needs to be in the forefront of our minds", Betts said. F-22 Raptors, F-35 Lightning IIs, F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-15 Eagles, F/A-18 Hornets and EA-18G Growlers will be flying alongside South Korean F-15K Slam Eagles and F-4 Phantom IIs during the wargame under realistic wartime conditions.
South Korean media reports said B-1B Lancer bombers could join the exercise this week.
"If "freeze for freeze" is going to work, then North Korea has to accept the verification process", Woo said.
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. PLAAF spokesman Shen Jinke said that such exercises will be a regular occurrence in the future. "Its intentions are to use that weapon for nuclear blackmail, and then, to, quote, you know, "reunify" the peninsula under the red banner".
These waters comprise China's "air defense identification zone", where China has flown numerous military exercises since 2011 - often during moments of tension with Japan and South Korea, as the zone includes waters claimed by either nation. The aircraft participating in the exercises are simulating the destruction of the DPRK's nuclear and missile facilities, as well as mobile rocket launchers.
Officials in Pyongyang have described the exercises as the USA president "begging for a nuclear war".