More than 12,000 service members from the United States will join airmen from the Republic of Korea in an air combat exercise in South Korea, according to the Air Force.
Troops from the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy will train with 230 South Korean and U.S. aircraft, including six F-22 Raptors and 18 F-35 Lightning II fighter jets, according to the Yonhap News Agency.
Of the 18 F-35s, six are F-35A models from the Air Force and 12 are F-35B models from the Marine Corps, according to a 7th Air Force spokesperson.
The fighters will fly to the Korean Peninsula from Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, Japan, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
“It is important to include the newest fighter jet in our inventory in exercises like [Vigilant Ace] because we learn more about the F-35’s capabilities and how best to utilize them and integrate them with other platforms with each exercise,” the spokesperson told Air Force Times via email.
The third annual exercise will kick off Monday and run through Friday. It will include enemy infiltration and precision strike drills with South Korean jets across eight military installations.
The spokesperson with 7th Air Force said the exercise is designed to ensure interoperability between Republic of Korea and U.S. airmen, as well as to build readiness to defend the Republic of Korea from a North Korean attack. It is not, however, a direct response to any North Korean provocation, the spokesperson said.