February 18, 2016 10:30
Four powerful F-22 stealth jets arrived in South Korea on Wednesday, and two of them will be stationed at the U.S. Forces Korea's Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province "for the time being," a U.S. military spokesman said.
The F-22 Raptors took off from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa earlier that day. The U.S. keeps about 10 Raptors at Kadena in the event of crises in Northeast Asia including provocations from North Korea.
The F-22s were deployed warfare-ready for the first time in 2005. They have internal weapons bays carrying missiles and bombs. Their stealth paint coating helps avoid enemy radar detection.
Their APG-77 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar can supposedly detect enemy aircraft 250 km away.
A Defense Ministry official here said they can also carry nuclear weapons during a war.
Once stationed at Osan, the F-22 can reach Pyongyang in about seven minutes, flying at Mach 1.5, the Musudan missile base in 15 minutes, the Tongchang-ri missile launch site in 12 minutes, and the Yongbyon nuclear facility in 10 minutes.
South Korea is confident that this considerably reduces response time in an emergency.
The U.S. Forces Korea has been beefing up its weaponry here as a show of force since the North’s latest missile test and rocket launch. They include the nuclear-powered submarine USS North Carolina, and a PAC-3 battery that can intercept enemy ballistic missiles.
The B-2 stealth fighter bombers and the 97,000-ton nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis will participate in joint exercises in March and April.
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