On Monday, 1,400 soldiers will begin participating in the 12-day war games. The military aircraft will involve advanced fighter jets, such as the F-35 and F-16. Chief of staff of the ROK Air Force Operations Command, Lee Beom-ki, said, “Through this exercise, (we) will be able to reaffirm the solid South Korea-U.S. alliance and further develop the combined operational capability to another level.”
Washington and Seoul have conducted a series of war games in recent weeks. In mid-March, the US flew a B-1B bomber over the Korean Peninsula. The show of force was quickly followed by the "Foal Eagle" war games. Foal Eagle was the largest live-fire military drill in South Korea in five years. In April, Washington conducted anti-submarine operations with Tokyo and Seoul. Shortly thereafter, the White House ordered a B-52 bomber to fly over the peninsula.
Pyongyang has reciprocated with weapons testing. North Korea claimed that they successfully launched an underwater drone capable of creating a "nuclear tsunami" and an intercontinental ballistic missile.
The US and South Korea typically assert that the exercises are defensive. However, North Korea views the war games as preparation for regime change in Pyongyang. A recent article in North Korean state media said, "The US and its followers should never forget the fact that their rival state has possessed the nuclear attack capability."
"The US has parroted that the military drills with South Korea are defensive," the KCNA editorial said. "But, they can never conceal with such veils as ‘defensive’ and ‘routine’ their aggressive colors as provocateurs and the fact that the current exercises are a deliberate military action prompted by their sinister scheme … to wreck peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula."