Sunday, May 29, 2005

US Deploying Stealth Fighters To South Korea

The Pentagon is deploying 15 F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighters and 250 airmen this week from its air force base in New Mexico in the U.S. to the Korean Peninsula, the U.S Forces Korea (USFK) said Wednesday.
The 49th Fighter Wing at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico Monday announced the deployment of about 250 air crew and support personnel, along with the stealths, and the USFK said. The F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighters are expected to be deployed to either U.S. air bases in Osan or Kunsan, said Kim Yong-kyu, a public relations official at the USFK. ``The current deployment of the stealths is not related to the current situation surrounding Pyongyang's nuclear threat,'' Kim quoted USFK spokeswoman MaryAnn Cummings as saying. ``This is a routine deployment of a U.S. air force unit for training and familiarization.'' However, the U.S. move drew attention as it came as tensions are continuing to escalate over the communist regime's possible nuclear test, worsening prospects of an early resumption of the six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear weapons program. ``The deployment is part of an ongoing measure to maintain a credible deterrent posture and presence in the region,'' said a news release from the air force base. Speculations over a possible contingency plan against the North by the U.S. have arisen since the U.S. military is beefing up its military capabilities in the Pacific region, by repositioning its sophisticated fighter jets and Navy vessels.
B-2 Spirit stealth bombers
Last February, the U.S. deployed B-2 Spirit stealth bombers and F-15E fighter jets in Guam, the range to strike North Korea's nuclear facilities in case of an emergency, according to the Stars and Stripes, a U.S. army newspaper published in Seoul.
F-15E fighter jet
The Pentagon also plans to introduce two Aegis-equipped warships in Japan this summer. Currently, the U.S. military runs five Aegis-equipped vessels in the East Sea. ``The U.S. government doesn't have intention to attack North Korea and the military beef-up in the Pacific region is not related to the nuclear issue,'' a high-ranking USFK official said in a meeting with reporters earlier this month. ``But we always prepare for the worst-case scenario.'' About 24 stealths and 300 airmen were deployed from Holloman to Kunsan in North Cholla Province last summer, as part of a U.S. military training program on a rotation basis. About 32,500 U.S. troops are currently stationed in South Korea as a deterrence against North Korea.
F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter