January 30, 2020 14:00
Four U.S. F-22 Raptor stealth fighters from an air base in Alaska have been sent to Yokota Air Base in Japan recently as North Korea appears to be limbering up for a fresh provocation.
U.S. special operations aircraft have already been flying around the Korean Peninsula recently, including a radiation-sniffer plane, while an MQ-4C Triton high-altitude drone has been deployed with the Seventh Fleet.
But it is unclear whether the stealth fighters' deployment is part of regular rotation or a special occasion.
The F-22 is one of the strategic American weapons the North Korean regime is most afraid of because it could attack major facilities in Pyongyang and other areas undetected by radar.
"It seems that the U.S. is trying to put pressure on the North, China, and Russia by boosting its military capabilities in the Indo-Pacific region," said Shin Jong-woo at the Korea Defense and Security Forum.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said the U.S. Forces Korea has conducted some 88 percent of regular exercises since massive joint exercises with South Korea were suspended or downscaled.
Lt. Gen. David Allvin, the U.S. Joint Staff director for strategy, plans and policy, told the U.S. House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that there were more than 200 smaller-scale exercises here last year alone.
"Through varying the size, scope, scale and timing of [training events], they were able to execute over 88 percent of those actual planned activities," thanks to efforts spearheaded by USFK chief Robert Abrams, he said. Major large-scale exercises have been halted since U.S. President Donald Trump decided to cancel them after his first summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in 2018.
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