The Air Force sent six radar-evading F-35 Lightning II jet fighters to South Korea to conduct combined flight operations and training missions with their South Korean counterparts, officials said Tuesday.
The deployment of the stealth aircraft based at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska comes as Seoul and Washington are ramping up their security cooperation over concerns that North Korea may soon conduct nuclear tests.
The training with South Korean jet fighters is expected to last 10 days, officials said.
“The familiarization and routine training flights will enhance the interoperability of the two air forces to perform and operate on and around the Korean peninsula,” according to a statement from U.S. Forces Korea.
The last publicly announced deployment of U.S. fifth-generation fighters to the Republic of Korea was in December 2017 during the joint US-RoK Vigilant Ace exercises.
“The deployment this time is aimed at demonstrating the South Korea-U.S. alliance’s strong deterrence and combined defense posture, as well as improving interoperability between the two air forces,” Seoul’s Defense Ministry said, according to the South Korean Yonhap news agency.