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S. Korea, U.S. field 100 aircraft in joint drill

All News 15:19 April 20, 2017

SEOUL, April 20 (Yonhap) -- More than 100 South Korean and U.S. warplanes have joined an annual combined defense exercise under way on the peninsula, South Korea's Air Force said Thursday.

The Max Thunder training, which started on April 14 for a two-week run, also involves around 1,200 troops, including some American personnel stationed in Japan.

South Korea has dispatched F-15K, KF-16, FA-50, F-4E and F-5 fighter jets, as well as C-130 cargo and E-737 airborne early warning and control aircraft.

The U.S. has also sent various types of assets, including F-16s, U-2 reconnaissance aircraft from the 7th Air Force, AV-8Bs from the 12th Marine Aircraft Group and EA-18Gs from the Electronic Attack Squadron 132.

A F-16 fighter jet of the U.S. Air Force takes off at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea during the Max Thunder joint training on April 20, 2017. (Yonhap)

In the Max Thunder operation at Kunsan Air Base, the two sides have conducted a simulation-based precision strike drill.

They also staged a war game in two teams -- Blue Air and Red Air.

On Friday, the air force commanders of the allies plan to fly in each other's aircraft in a symbolic goodwill gesture.

Lt. Gen. Won In-chul, commander of South Korean Air Force Operations Command, will be aboard an F-16, with Lt. Gen. Thomas Bergeson, 7th U.S. Air Force commander, on board an FA-50.

"Through the training this time, the South Korean and U.S. air forces have demonstrated the capability to perfectly overwhelm an enemy and respond to any form of provocation anytime and anywhere," Won said, according to the Air Force.

The U.S. commander was also quoted as saying that the joint exercise offers a good opportunity to train together and improve tactical skills indispensable in the security of the Korean Peninsula.

South Korean and U.S. fighter jets fly together in the 2016 Max Thunder exercise in this file photo provided by the South Korean Air Force. (Yonhap)


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