Bad weather and snowfall stopped F-22s from flying over Korea
SEOUL ($1=1,282.23 South Korean Wons) — The US Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth fighters were held hostage by the bad Korean weather. Heavy snowfall and unpleasant weather conditions landed not only the American fighters but also their Korean “brothers”.
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This week, South Korea and the US were due to hold joint military exercises involving warplanes, including US F-22s coming from the Kadena air base in Okinawa, Japan. After the worsening weather, the F-22s returned back to Japan, again flying 275 kilometers. The exercises were supposed to start this Thursday, December 22nd.
The F-22s have been eagerly awaited in South Korea, especially since their arrival is the first in four years in South Korea for joint training. The F-22 last participated in military exercises yesterday, December 20th, when the Americans took to the air B-52H bombers, as well as F-35As and F-15Ks. The exercises took place over the southern island of Jeju.
The US and South Korea were supposed to hold the joint exercise in response to successive ballistic missile launches by North Korea. Pyongyang launched two ballistic missiles this Sunday, December 18th.
In November, the Pentagon announced that the combat duty of US F-15 Eagles fighters in Okinawa was ending, and was sending the F-22 Raptor in their place. The deployment of the F-22s to Okinawa comes as the US has yet to decide exactly what aircraft will replace the F-15s in Kadena Air Base’s inventory. The Japanese minister confirmed that the Raptors will perform functions on a rotational basis. I.e. six months will be at the base, after which other aircraft from other bases will be deployed.
Some US experts were quick to criticize Washington for the decision to withdraw the F-15C/D Eagle from Okinawa. China’s growing influence in the region and increasing combat capability in all domains has been the cause of criticism. But they were quick, and seeing that the US intends to deploy significantly more combat-capable fighters in the future, their initial decision is now considered logical.
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