Joint air force training exercise set for this week

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Joint air force training exercise set for this week

South Korea and the United States will begin a regular air force training exercise this week to improve cooperation between the two allies’ airmen, South Korea’s Air Force said yesterday.

About 50 fighter jets, including F-15Ks and KF-16s from South Korea as well as F-16 Fighting Falcons and KC-135 Stratotankers from the U.S., will take part in the eight-day drill starting today, the South Korean Air Force said in a statement.

More than 250 pilots from the two allies will be mobilized for the drill, named “Max Thunder,” to be staged over the western airspace of the Korean Peninsula, according to the statement.

“This air readiness exercise is aimed at allowing airmen to practice their war-fighting skills in realistic combat situations,” the statement said.

In particular, this year’s exercise will focus on deterring and defeating a potential air strike from North Korea, following the March 26th sinking of the Cheonan warship blamed on the North, Air Force officials said.

North Korea denies any responsibility in the sinking that claimed the lives of 46 sailors.

“Throughout the exercise, the allies’ air forces plan to test their ability to immediately counter the enemy’s provocations in line with the rules of engagement,” said an official at the Air Force.

The exercise is also partly aimed at preparing the joint forces for a larger joint exercise, the annual Red Flag Nellis, according to the statement.

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