US, South Korea to begin large-scale air drills this month

Seoul official says Australia also expected to join exercises.

US, South Korea to begin large-scale air drills this month

South Korea and the US are preparing to start large-scale air drills by the end of this month amid growing tension on the Korean Peninsula.

According to local media, the air drills will start from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4, with US F-35B stealth jets along with some 140 warplanes from South Korea, including F-35A, F-15, and KF-16 fighters.

The US military plans to deploy around 100 aircraft, including F-35B stealth fighters, from an American base in Japan, Yonhap News Agency quoted unnamed South Korean officials as saying.

On Monday, Seoul defense forces also kicked off their annual military exercises aimed to monitor North Korea's movement, maintaining an emergency response posture to any threat from Pyongyang.

"The planned training is aimed at verifying the systems of wartime combined air operations between the South Korean and US air forces, and enhancing their combat readiness posture," an official said.

The official added that Australia is also expected to join the training.

On Sunday, the South Korean presidency warned that North Korea is expected to carry out its seventh nuclear test at any time after recent missile tests.

Earlier, on Friday, North Korea fired another short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) into the East Sea, two days after firing two long-range strategic cruise missiles, involving units operating "tactical nukes.”

On Oct. 4, the US and South Korean forces held live-fire joint drills after North Korea fired a missile over Japan for the first time in five years.

Tensions on the peninsula rose in 2020 when North Korea attacked and blew up the inter-Korean liaison office along the border. Seoul has threatened a strong response if Pyongyang "further worsens the situation."

However, tensions soared further recently after Seoul and Washington held joint military drills.