South Korea: According to a military source, South Korea and the United States began a joint annual air exercise on Monday in a low-key manner, ostensibly to support ongoing diplomacy to resume dialogue with North Korea. According to reports, the allies each mobilised about 100 air assets for the five-day exercise, including F-15K and KF-16 jets from South Korea and F-16s from the United States.
Since suspending the large-scale Vigilant Ace exercise to support peace efforts on the Korean Peninsula, the allies have held the air exercise on a regular basis in a scaled-down, low-key manner. The South Korean Air Force refused to comment publicly on the manoeuvres, stating only that allied exercises are conducted in a "balanced manner" as part of the annual plan. According to reports, an Air Force official said, "We cannot comment on the exercise because it is not disclosed to the media."
North Korea has long denounced military drills by the allies as invasion rehearsals and used them as a pretext for provocations. The reclusive regime recently slammed Seoul and Washington for labelling its missile activities as "provocations" while justifying their own as deterrence.