F-22 stealth flighters
F-22 stealth flighters Reuters

The air forces of the United States and South Korea are scheduled to hold a regular joint drill early next month, Reuters reported Thursday, citing a South Korean defense ministry official.

The two armies will deploy six F-22 Raptor stealth fighters in the exercise, according to the report.

The drill called “Vigilant Ace” will be held from December 4 to 8, the official told Reuters. According to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, it will be the biggest number of F-22 fighter jets to participate in a single drill to date.

The Vigilant Ace drill is a biannual, bilateral training event held by the United States and South Korea regularly to simulate wartime defenses.

In previous exercises, roughly 16,000 U.S. troops have participated in the drill, noted Reuters.

The exercise comes amid ongoing tensions with North Korea, which continues to conduct nuclear and ballistic missile tests in defiance of UN sanctions.

Joint drills such as these are protested strongly by Pyongyang, which sees the exercises as an aggression against the isolated state.

U.S. President Donald Trump recently warned North Korea he was prepared to use the full range of U.S. military power to stop any attack, but also urged Pyongyang to “make a deal.”

Earlier this week he declared North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism, paving the way for a string of new sanctions against its nuclear program.

The United States Treasury subsequently unveiled new economic sanctions targeting North Korean shipping and Chinese traders doing business with Pyongyang.