F-22 stealth fighters sent as signal to North
A fleet of the radar-evading stealth fighters were deployed to Osan Air Base from the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa on Sunday to join the ongoing, two-month Foal Eagle joint U.S.-Korea military exercises, which run until the end of the month, the U.S. military command revealed yesterday.
It did not specify the number of planes sent to Korea.
On Saturday, North Korea declared its relations with South Korea had entered “a state of war.”
Pyongyang also vowed Saturday to build a stronger economy and nuclear arsenal and emphasized that nuclear arms were not bargaining chips.
The White House responded Sunday that North Korea “has a long history of bellicose rhetoric and threats and today’s announcement follows that familiar pattern.” It said it will remain in close contact with Seoul.
President Park Geun-hye yesterday vowed to strike back against North Korea in case of an attack.
On Thursday, in a rare move, the U.S. deployed a pair of nuclear-capable B-2 Spirit stealth bombers on their first-ever firing drill over the Korean Peninsula.
The U.S. has included long-range, strategic B-52 bombers and the attack submarine USS Cheyenne as a part of the ongoing joint military exercises.
But the single-seat, F-22 tactical fighter, lauded by the U.S. Air Force for its all-round capabilities, can detect targets and data up to 250 kilometers (155.34 miles) away and is smaller than the B-2 or B-52 bombers at 18.9 meters in length and 13.5 meters in wingspan. It can travel as fast as Mach 2.4 and has an ammunition system that can hold 480 rounds of 20 millimeter ammunition. It also can carry the AIM-120 air-to-air missiles.
Export sales of the F-22 are banned and its technology and capabilities are mostly classified.
Kim Kwan-jin, minister of national defense, said yesterday, “In the case of North Korea’s provocation, we will also mobilize U.S. mainland’s military strength and in unison suppress [the North].”
The F-22 previously was deployed in Korea for joint military exercises in July 2010.
“If the F-22 flies, in reality, the North’s fighter jets will become incapacitated,” a Korean military official stated. “Because it has stealth capabilities, the F-22 can fly Pyongyang skies without being located by Pyongyang radar.”
“Starting from last month, fierce psychological warfare in the airfields of the Korean Peninsula has been unfolding,” said Shin In-kyun, head of Korea Defense Network, a military affairs think tank. “Starting with the deployment of the B-52, the B-2 and now even the F-22, we can look forward to definitely curbing North Korea’s intention of making a provocation.”
By Sarah Kim, Chang Se-jeong [email@example.com]