SEOUL (Reuters) - The air forces of South Korea and the United States are scheduled to hold a regular joint drill next month, deploying six F-22 Raptor stealth fighters in the exercise, a South Korean defense ministry official said on Friday.
The drill, called Vigilant Ace, will run from Dec. 4 to 8, the official told Reuters. The F-22 stealth fighters will be joined by F-35 aircraft, a U.S. Air Force official said.
The Vigilant Ace drill is held regularly by the United States and South Korea to simulate wartime defenses.
About 12,000 U.S. personnel will participate with South Korean troops while 230 aircraft will be flown at eight U.S. and South Korean military installations, the U.S. Seventh Air Force said in a news statement.
U.S. Marine Corps and Navy troops will also participate, it added.
"This realistic combat exercise is designed to enhance interoperability between U.S. and Republic of Korea forces and increase the combat effectiveness of both nations," it said.
The exercise comes as North Korea continues to press forward with developing its nuclear and missile program, in defiance of global condemnation and sanctions, though it has not held tests for two months.
Pyongyang strongly protests against joint drills of this nature, which it views as aggression against the isolated state.
(Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by G Crosse and Clarence Fernandez)