The United States and South Korea kicked off joint air drills on October 30, 2023, involving hundreds of warplanes, in a show of force against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.
The drills, dubbed Vigilant Storm, are the largest-scale joint air exercises between the two allies since 2017. They involve more than 240 aircraft, including F-35 stealth fighter jets, B-1B bombers, and E-8C surveillance planes.
The drills are taking place at air bases across South Korea, and will include simulated air-to-air combat, ground attack, and close air support missions.
The drills are seen as a message to North Korea that the US and South Korea are prepared to defend themselves against any aggression. They also come amid a growing concern that North Korea may be preparing to conduct its seventh nuclear test.
North Korea has criticized the drills, calling them a “provocation” and a “threat” to its security. The country has also threatened to take “strong military countermeasures” if the drills continue.
The US and South Korea have defended the drills, saying that they are necessary to deter North Korea from further aggression. They have also said that the drills are defensive in nature and do not pose a threat to North Korea.
The drills are expected to last for five days.