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S. Korea, U.S. launch scaled-back air drills

All Headlines 14:03 April 23, 2019

SEOUL, April 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States have kicked off combined air force drills this week in replacement of their traditional large-scale exercises, a military source here said Tuesday.

The two-week exercise began Monday, involving dozens of warplanes from the two sides, as well as Australia, including F-15K, KF-16 and F-16 jets, according to the source.

This year's drills are an alternative to the Max Thunder, massive drills that had taken place since 2009, involving around 100 aircraft from the two sides.

Seoul and Washington have maintained low-key stances in carrying out joint drills in consideration of the denuclearization and peace process on the Korean Peninsula, the source noted.

Since last year, Seoul and Washington have suspended a set of major exercises, including the summertime Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) exercise and wintertime Vigilant Ace air exercise, though they continue smaller-scale drills to maintain combat readiness.

Pyongyang denounced the South Korea-U.S. exercises as rehearsals for invasion. The allies argued that their exercises were defensive in nature.

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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