U.S. Air Force secretary reaffirms commitment to defense of S. Korea

WASHINGTON-- U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said Friday that Washington remains committed to defending South Korea against North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile threats.

The reaffirmation came after top U.S. military officials, including Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford and the chiefs of the U.S. Pacific and Strategic commands, traveled to South Korea amid escalating tensions with Pyongyang.

"The United States stands firmly with its allies and our commitment to the collective self-defense of the Korean Peninsula," Wilson told reporters at the Pentagon.

Tensions flared earlier this month when U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to unleash "fire and fury" on Pyongyang, and the regime responded with threats to fire ballistic missiles toward Guam.

The exchange of bellicose rhetoric subsided after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un backed down from his threat.

Wilson declined to give details of the allies' air force capabilities in the event of hostilities on the peninsula.

But she expressed confidence in the operational capability of Lockheed Martin's F-35A fighter jets. South Korea has signed up to buy 40 such jets for delivery between 2018 and 2021.

"We now just passed 100,000 flying hours with F-35. It's doing very well," Wilson said. "Any contingency now, if there were a problem, they're ready to go to combat."

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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