Combined S. Korea-U.S. air drill to be smaller scale than usual this month: Pentagon
Updated: 2019-11-08 16:28:18 KST
The Pentagon has made its intentions clear on an issue that has been the talk of the town among defense circles in South Korea.
The U.S. Vice Director of the Joint Staff Admiral William Byrne said in a press briefing Thursday that the allies' wintertime joint air drill will be held in mid-November.
However, he stressed it will be on a smaller scale than the Vigilant Ace exercise, which was suspended last year to support diplomatic efforts to denuclearize North Korea.
He didn't specify the number of personnel or aircraft that would participate, but said the upcoming drill is to maintain readiness while allowing U.S. diplomats room to continue negotiations with North Korea.
The regime commonly condemns the maneuvers as a rehearsal for invasion.
"Seoul's defense ministry has remained tight-lipped on the matter reiterating it's working closely with the U.S. to finalize plans."
The ministry's taciturn response had led to conflicting local media reports that had been quoting a statement from another Pentagon source that the two sides will hold the "Combined Flying Training Event" as scheduled referring to the exercise as Vigilant Ace.
South Korean media outlets also cited sources as saying this year's drill could be held under a different name similar to last December's exercise in which the two countries' air forces conducted the drill separately without the participation of U.S. strategic assets, such as B-1B Lancer bombers.
The combined part of that drill was carried out by battalions or units smaller than that aimed at data linking to test if U.S. fighter jets flying into airspace outside Korea could still properly receive real-time data from South Korean reconnaissance planes.
Scenarios included verifying the main targets in North Korea should a war break out.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.