US deploys F-22 stealth fighters to South Korea

The U.S. military deployed F-22 stealth fighters to South Korea on Sunday to participate in annual military drills amid heightened tensions with North Korea.

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The U.S. military command in South Korea said the F-22 Raptors were sent from Japan to Osan Air Base, South Korea participate in bilateral exercises, as it urged restraint from Pyongyang, Reuters reported.

"[North Korea] will achieve nothing by threats or provocations, which will only further isolate North Korea and undermine international efforts to ensure peace and stability in Northeast Asia," the command said in a statement said.

The United States has flown B-2 and B-52 bombers to South Korea in addition to the F-22s as part of its annual military exercises with the South Koreans, which have come as North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un has ramped up his bellicose rhetoric to the two countries.

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Pyongyang has threatened nuclear attacks and declared an end to the decades-old armistice. North Korea said Saturday that it was entering a “state of war” against the South.

The recent escalation in rhetoric has occurred in the wake of new sanctions against North Korea for conducting a new nuclear test earlier this year.

The annual joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises, known as Foal Eagle, have prompted angry rhetoric from the North Korea in previous years as well.

U.S. officials have said they are taking the North Korean threats “very seriously” while noting the North Koreans often will wield bellicose rhetoric.

“We must make clear that these provocations by the North are taken by us very seriously, and we'll respond to that,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last week.

Hagel last month restarted plans that were put on hold in 2009 to beef up U.S. missile defenses in Alaska in response to the new North Korean threats and nuclear test.


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