South Korea and the United States held an air power demonstration involving 20 fighter jets amid signs North Korea may soon conduct a nuclear test.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the air demonstration involved 16 South Korean planes — including F-35A stealth fighters — and four U.S. F-16 fighter jets and was aimed at demonstrating their ability to swiftly respond to North Korean provocations.
Pictures released by South Korea’s military showed the aircraft flying in a tight, triangular formation. The exercise involved 16 South Korean fighter jets — including the F-35A, F-15K, and KF-16 — and four F-16 fighters from the U.S. Air Force, according to Seoul.
“The ROK-US has demonstrated its strong ability and willingness to strike against North Korea’s provocations quickly and accurately,” the South Korean military said. The two countries are watching for further provocations by North Korea, it added.
The flight came a day after the allies fired eight surface-to-surface missiles into South Korea’s eastern waters to match a weekend missile display by North Korea, which fired the same number of weapons from multiple locations Sunday in what was likely its biggest single-day testing event.
There are also signs that North Korea could soon conduct its seventh nuclear test, a step that could further raise regional tensions.
While the Biden administration has vowed to push for additional international sanctions if North Korea goes on with the nuclear test, the prospects for meaningful new punitive measures are unclear with the U.N. Security Council divided.
“Any nuclear test would be in complete violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. There would be a swift and forceful response to such a test,” Sherman said, following a meeting with South Korea Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong.