The US deployed in South Korea 12 of the fifth generation fighter

North Korea

The exercises will involve all variety of aircraft, from reconnaissance planes to fighter jets, in joint operation with surface-to-air missiles.

North Korea routinely uses strong language to denounce U.S.

The U.S. Air Force has said the size of this year's drill is "comparable" to previous years.

That includes two dozen stealth fighters, including six F-22 Raptors twin-engine jets, sixF-35As Lighting II single-engine jets and a dozen F-35B vertical takeoff versions in the Pacific. The fact that Washington is now within range of the North Korean nuclear weapons appears to have made the American government extremely skittish.

Below are photos of some of the aircraft involved.

The annual joint exercise, called "Vigilant Ace", has been created to enhance readiness and operational capability and to ensure peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, officials have said. "Hundred percent", Col. Scott Jobe, commander of the 35th Fighter Wing, told CBS News during a recent exercise at the Misawa Air Base, which is about 400 miles north of Tokyo.

The Defense Ministry stresses that the Vigilant Ace 18 is aimed at "working out the combat interaction of the air forces of the two countries in any weather or condition, day and night".

The South Korean military said the B-1B Lancer from Anderson Air Force Base in Guam will be deployed to Korea to join the Vigilant ACE drills with South Korean fighter jets.

On the eve of the exercise, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said Pyongyang will "seriously consider" countermeasures against the drills and warned that Washington and Seoul will "pay dearly for the provocations".

An F-22 Raptor participating in the massive United States and South Korean air force drills taking place from December 4 through 8 experienced a technical malfunction after landing and had to be towed off its runway to the hangar, Stars and Stripes reported Monday.

The F-22 Raptor multi-role fighter was created by Boeing and Lockheed Martin and was made operational by the US Air Force in 2005. The 36th is one of many squadrons taking part in Vigilant Ace. The aircraft will fly alongside F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-15 Eagles, F-18 Hornets, A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and EA-18G Growlers, and Republic of Korea F-15K Slam Eagles and F-4 Phantom IIs, according to the service.



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