The US-Korea “Vigilant Storm” exercises this year are the biggest ever, including 140 South Korean and over 100 American jets, and Pyongyang claims they are in reaction mode to this provocation and threat to its security. The north has responded to the increasing hazardous muscle-flexing during these maneuvers by launching 180 flights close to the common Military Demarcation Line that delineates the border between the two rival nations.
When South Korea saw the large wave of hostile aircraft heading from the other side of the border, it scrambled 80 of its own aircraft as a direct response element, including F-35A stealth fighters.
According to information on Friday’s forceful display on both sides of the border, as reported by CBS News based on South Korean media:
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the North Korean warplanes were detected in various areas inland and along the country’s eastern and western coasts but didn’t come particularly close to the inter-Korean border.
None of the planes breached the South Korean military’s virtual “tactical action” line 12 to 31 miles north of the Koreas’ land and sea boundaries for monitoring purposes to give the South enough time to respond to provocations or attacks.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said while announcing the extension of joint drills on agreement by South Korea’s Defense Minister Jong-Sup Lee that “at this time of heightened tension, our alliance is ironclad.”
“We’re returning to large scale exercises to strengthen our combined readiness and our ability to fight tonight if necessary,” he added.
ALERT South Korea scrambled fighter jets after detecting about 180 North Korean warplanes https://t.co/cv22ZpZVVD
— AIRLIVE (@airlivenet) November 4, 2022
South Korean defense chief warned, amid growing concerns Pyongyang could be preparing for the first nuclear test in five years, that “any nuclear attack by the DPRK, including the use of tactical nuclear weapons, is unacceptable.” Jong-Sup Lee added that such unthinkable escalation would lead to “the end of the Kim Jong un regime.”
Pyongyang has slammed the Vigilant Storm drills to its south as “an aggressive and provocative military drill targeting North Korea”, and has warned both Seoul and Washington will “pay the most horrible price in history” if it persists with the provocations.