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

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

By now, we all know that North Korea's been hard at work dong what they do best: Launching test missiles and fiery rhetoric.

The exercise was part of five-day-long air force annual exercise known as Vigilant Ace that started Monday in which 230 aircrafts are taking part in simulated strikes over South Korea.

On Dec. 4, the USA and South Korea kicked off their largest joint air exercise yet, dubbed Vigilant Ace 18, involving hundreds of aircraft and tends of thousands of troops on the ground.

The South Korean army's adoption of drones on the battlefield follows the footsteps of the USA and Chinese armed forces, which have already adopted swarming drone tactics. 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.

"Through the exercise, the South Korean and US air forces have demonstrated the alliance's strong will and capability for strong retaliation against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats", the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

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"My biggest expectation for the Wing is to remove any "exercise" mindset from the equation and maximize the realism of every response". The exercise allows USA and RoK forces to train together to deter aggression, preserve the armistice, and defeat any attack against the alliance. Amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula after North Korea's November 29 test-launch of the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Graham said in a December 3 appearance on CBS that it was "crazy to send spouses and children to South Korea, given the provocation of North Korea". "If north Korea is not going to accept it, then the U.S.is not going to accept it".

North Korea's state media confirmed the arrival of Feltman and his entourage late on Tuesday without offering more details.

Those areas overlap with Japanese and South Korean airspace.

"And as you know, this is a regime that's never met a weapon that it hasn't proliferated. The tension between the South and the North is at its peak, and so it is a very cautious situation as if we are walking on thin ice", Moon said, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency. That led to events such as the Able Archer incident in 1983 where the Kremlin mistook a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation exercise as preparations to launch a nuclear first strike against the Soviet Union-the closest Washington and Moscow ever came to World War III. The exercises have been condemned as a provocation by the isolated North.

Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for the National Interest.