F-22A Raptors have shown up at Osan Air Base in South Korea, just as Foxtrot Alpha predicted. The deployment of a quartet of the stealthy super-fighters comes as tensions continue to rise on the Korean Peninsula in the wake of the North’s most recent rocket test.
The video below shows the F-22's arrival at Osan Air Base:
The F-22s’ arrival in South Korea is clearly in response to escalating tensions after North Korea test launched another long-range rocket. It also comes as rumors are flying that Kim Jong Un executed his Army Chief of Staff.
Kim’s region-destabilizing acts are resulting in what would have been thought of as nearly impossible a decade ago as China, which North Korea is desperately dependent on, begins to turn its back on the Hermit Kingdom. China may even approve harsh sanctions on North Korea following their most recent rocket test launch. On the other hand, China’s move away from its dependent neighbor could be an alarming sign that even it has lost control of a Kim Jong Un ruled North Korea.
The F-22s were escorted by one section of US F-16C/Ds and one section of Republic of South Korea Air Force F-15K Slam Eagles as they made their way to Osan Air Base. A B-52H was flown over South Korea and Osan Air Base while flanked by a similar formation of jets following North Korea’s recent nuclear test. This mission was a similar show of force, although the B-52 continued on its way back to its temporary base at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, whereas the F-22s landed at Osan and will likely fly missions out of there for the foreseeable future.
The Raptors that arrived at Osan Air Base in South Korea are almost certainly a detachment from a much larger F-22 deployment to Yokota Air Base outside of Tokyo. This deployment, which began close to three weeks ago, involved the 525th Fighter Squadron based in Alaska. Smaller detachments of F-22s that can be rapidly deployed around the globe is a tactic dubbed “Rapid Raptor” by the USAF.
In the recent past, we have seen even these tiny deployments of F-22s split up to conduct training and show of force missions—namely, this happened late last summer when four F-22s deployed to the European area of operations.
Following North Korea’s long-range missile launch, the U.S. and South Korea have all but announced the deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to South Korea. This move is viewed by China as a threat to the balance of power in the region. Still, these protests will likely go unmitigated considering the high-level of unpredictability North Korea continues to convey—at least, unless China can get a major concession out of the North or at least some sort of guarantee that things will become more stable in the near future.
In the meantime, the F-22s’ presence just south of Seoul will not go unnoticed by the paranoid North Korean military apparatus. Whether that will settle things down or provoke them further remains to be seen.
Contact the author at Tyler@jalopnik.com.
Photos via Author/Foxtrot Alpha