North Korea: US 'begging' for war with 'largest ever' joint aerial drill

Frederick Owens
December 5, 2017

Days after the air force exercise was announced, North Korea test-launched its new Hwasong-15 missile, which it claims is capable of reaching the whole United States mainland.

The drills, named "Vigilant Ace", seek to improve the all-weather, day and night combined operational capacity of the two countries, according to the South Korean Defence Ministry.

The five-day Vigilant Ace drill - involving 230 aircraft, including F-22 Raptor stealth jet fighters, and tens of thousands of troops - began Monday morning, Seoul's air force said.

The US deployed over two dozen stealth fighter jets, including F-22s and F-35s, and two strategic B-1B bombers in the manoeuvers, which will conclude on Saturday. Over 230 aircraft are taking part in the exercise, including 80 with the South Korean military and 150 with the U.S. military. The U.S. Air Force spokesman could not confirm the reports.

The training, held each year in late fall, is not in response to any incident or provocation, the Seventh Air Force said in a statement. Such language is typical in North Korean propaganda because the country claims U.S.

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The North, which considers such annual exercises as a rehearsal by the United States for an actual invasion, has already heaped scorn on the drill.

Underscoring the tensions, Senator Lindsey Graham of SC urged the Pentagon on Sunday to move dependents of American service members out of South Korea because of the threat of conflict.

While many South Koreans typically ignore North Korea's rhetoric, some senior American officials have expressed worry following the ICBM test, North Korea's third. The U.S. government has not announced a formal decision to evacuate U.S. citizens from South Korea, and there were no such signs in the diplomatic community in Seoul.

Also on Sunday, the White House national security adviser said that Trump will take care of North Korean threats by "doing more ourselves".

Others have been stoking the looming specter of war with warnings that conflict is growing ever closer, like White House national security adviser HR McMaster who said the probability of war is " increasing every day", and Senator Lindsey Graham, who has called on the Pentagon to start evacuating families of U.S. servicemen staged in South Korea.

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