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Korea, U.S. launch air defense exercise

A full-scale military air drill took flight over southwest Korea to improve the efficiency of joint operations by South Korean and U.S. air forces, according to military officials in Seoul on Monday.

Some 59 aircrafts from both countries are to take part in the five-day Max Thunder drill, including Korea’s F-15K and KF-16 jets and HH-60P choppers, and U.S. F-16 jets as well as an airborne early warning and control system (AWACS).

During the drill, South Korean forces will take the lead with a “Blue Air” and “Red Air” team-based exercise designed for air warfare in combined flight formations and tactical bombardments of targets on land.

“The exercise will be held 24 hours a day throughout the week, with no time to rest,” said an air force official.

According to the official, at one point during the exercise 50 aircrafts will be in flight simultaneously.

Also included in the exercise for the first time are search and rescue scenarios of pilots stranded behind enemy lines.

Max Thunder has been held twice a year by both countries since 2008.

A 28,500-strong American force is stationed in South Korea to preserve peninsular and regional stability by deterring communist North Korea and other potential security risks.

By Robert Lee (robert@heraldcorp.com)
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