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6 South Korean fighter jets leave for Red Flag exercise

All News 11:20 October 01, 2016

SEOUL, Oct. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korean fighter jets have left for an airbase in Alaska on Saturday to participate in a joint drill with the U.S. and other allies to sharpen their combat skills, military officials said Saturday.

The six F-15Ks took off bound for the Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska at 1 a.m. to join the Red Flag exercise to be held from Oct. 3-21, according to the Air Force.

South Korea will join the multinational exercise also involving the air forces of New Zealand and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It plans to send the six fighter jets and two C-130 Hercules transport aircraft during the period.

They will practice combat skills through a simulation training of attacking targets and command posts of enemies. It has been known that this year's drill could include a simulation of surgical attacks on nuclear facilities amid growing concerns over North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test earlier last month, following the fourth one in January. The latest nuclear warhead detonation test is regarded as the most powerful, raising concerns that the North might be closer to nuclear weaponization.

Launched in 1976, the Red Flag exercise has been mainly intended to give pilots from the U.S., NATO and other allies an opportunity to practice and refine their skills for real combat situations. South Korea joined the drill first in 2013.

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