April 02, 2013 09:20
Two supersonic stealth fighter jets arrived here on Sunday to take part in the last days of joint annual South Korea-U.S. exercises. The F-22, nicknamed "Raptor," is designed to infiltrate enemy airspace and strike strategic targets.
Their presence is another show of force against North Korea, which has ratcheted up nuclear and missile threats.
The two F-22s came from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. They have a combat radius of more than 3,000 km and could strike strategic targets anywhere in North Korea within 40 minutes to an hour after taking off from there without mid-air refueling.
They can almost avoid radar detection, appearing on the screen as if they were the size of a bug.
They have joined drills in South Korean airspace on several occasions, but this is only the second time their presence has been openly announced. The first time was in July 2010 after the North sank the Navy corvette Cheonan.
U.S. military authorities had invited reporters to see the planes at an air base in Osan, Gyeonggi Province on Tuesday but suddenly canceled the plan.
Last week, the U.S. also announced that a pair of massive B-2 stealth bombers were flying dry runs over the Korean Peninsula as part of the exercises. That "already sent a strong message to the North," a South Korean government source said.
The source added that South Korean military authorities apparently asked their U.S. counterparts not to show the F-22 to the public because they felt it would unnecessarily provoke the North.
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