The US Air Force on Friday (13 October) announced that they are preparing to send a B-1B Lancer strategic bomber, F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets and other key defence assets to South Korea. The air fleet will reportedly participate in an airshow to be held next week in Seoul, the Yonhap news agency reported.
The Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (Adex) is a biennial event. This year's event is expected to host more than 400 defence firms from 33 countries.
The airshow is reportedly being seen as a new opportunity for allies US and South Korea to show off their air defence assets to adversary North Korea, after Pyongyang issued fresh threats to attack Guam Island — a US territory in the Pacific.
"Approximately 200 US personnel are expected to participate in the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (ADEX) 2017, scheduled from October 17 to 22 at the Seoul K-16 airport," US' 7th Air Force wing said in a statement.
"This year's airshow will feature demonstrations from US Air Force F-22 Raptors assigned to the 3rd Wing, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska," the statement added.
In addition to the F-22 Raptor and B-1B Lancer jets, the air fleet will also include A-10 Thunderbolt II, C-17 Globemaster III, C-130J Hercules, KC-135 Stratotanker, E-3 Sentry, U-2 Dragon Lady and RQ-4 Global Hawk.
US Air Force's latest fifth-generation fighter, the F-35A Lightning II, US Navy P-8A Poseidon and a US Army CH-47F Chinook will also take part in the event, the 7th Air Force said.
Lieutenant General Thomas Bergeson, the 7th Air Force commander and US Forces Korea deputy commander, reportedly said that the Seoul Adex 2017 event "represents a unique opportunity for citizens of the Republic of Korea (ROK) to get an up-close look at some of the air assets the US military brings to the ironclad ROK-US alliance". South Korea is officially called the Republic of Korea.
The airshow comes at a time when tensions between the US and North Korea are at an all-time high, with the latter repeatedly threatening to attack US cities and territories unless it stops military activities in the Korean peninsula.
On the other hand, Washington wants the Pyongyang regime to stop its nuclear pursuit, which it considers as provocation. US and ally South Korea have been conducting regular military drills in the region, further angering the North.
The two nations are yet again preparing to kick off high-profile joint drills off the coast of the peninsula next week, according to an announcement made on Friday. The exercise, dubbed the Maritime Counter Special Operations exercise, will begin on 16 October and conclude on 26 October.
It will be conducted in the East Sea and the Yellow Sea, also known as the West Sea, the announcement stated, adding that the exercise is aimed at promoting "communications, inter-operability, and partnership in the (US) 7th Fleet area of operations".