SEOUL. — The United States will dispatch nuclear-capable F-22 stealth fighters to South Korea in an apparent show of force to militarily pressure the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Yonhap news agency reported yesterday citing military authorities.
Four F-22 fighters, one of US strategic assets that have been estimated to be sent to show joint defence readiness between Seoul and Washington, will make a sortie today to the Korean peninsula.
The F-22 fighter has a stealth function of escaping any radar detection, capable of carrying nuclear missiles and bombs. Its operational range reaches as far as 2,177 km. The F-22 fighters deployed at a US air base in Okinawa, Japan can fly to the Korean peninsula in about two hours.
The F-22 sortie would come in the wake of the DPRK’s long-range rocket launch on February 7, which outsiders see as a test of banned ballistic missile technology, following Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test on January 6, the first of its disputed H-bomb test.
Four days after the DPRK’s nuclear detonation last month, the US military sent a long-range B-52 bomber, capable of delivering nuclear bombs, over South Korea’s airspace from the US air base in Guam.
The B-52 bomber can infiltrate at the highest altitude of 55 000 feet, or 16.8 km, carrying 35 conventional bombs and 12 cruise missiles.
It can deliver air-to-ground nuclear missiles with a range of 200 km and air-launched cruise missiles with a range of 2 500km to 3 000km.
In addition, the US recently dispatched a nuclear — powered submarine to the peninsula. The USS John C. Stennis, a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, will reportedly be mobilised to South Korea during this year’s joint annual war games between Seoul and Washington that will kick off on March 7 and run through April 30.
The Key Resolve command post exercise and the Foal Eagle field training exercise have been denounced by Pyongyang as a rehearsal for northward invasion. — Xinhua.