South Korea is slated to hold yet another joint military exercise with the US, involving more than a hundred F-35A aircraft to further “improve combat readiness” amid the tension with the North.

US-South Korea Large-scale Air Drills

The Republic of Korea (ROK) air force spokesman told reporters last week that the five-day, large-scale air exercise dubbed as the Vigilant Storm (formerly known as Vigilant Ace) will take place this coming October 31 until November 4. While the spokesman did not mention the number of aircraft participating in the drill, Yonhap News Agency reported that over a hundred South Korean stealth fighters are expected to join the exercise along with one Australian refueling tanker.

In a phone interview with Stars and Stripes, 7th Air Force spokeswoman Lt. Col. Kelley Jeter said that about a hundred US aircraft will participate in Vigilant Storm Exercise, “including helicopters from Camp Humphreys and F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.”

South Korea Air Defense Drill ROK F-35A
An F-35A fighter of the South Korean Air Force takes off from an Air Force base in Chungju on July 14, 2022. (Image source: Yonhap)

As combat readiness is prone to deterioration, Jeter stressed the importance of practice that would routinely sharpen skills and stay ready at all times. “This training brings together elements from the US Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Space Force and Air Force, and practices working together with [South Korean] air force capabilities,” she said.