U.S. Navy reveals East Sea drills involving aircraft carrier, stealth jets

SEOUL-- The U.S. military on Wednesday revealed this week's exercise with Japan in the East Sea involving a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, F-35C stealth jets and other key assets in a show of force amid concerns about possible North Korean provocations.

In a Facebook post, the U.S. 7th Fleet showed photos depicting the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier, F-35Cs, an F/A-18E Super Hornet and E-2D Hawk Eye early warning aircraft engaging in the drills with Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force on Tuesday.

The move came amid persistent speculation that the North could engage in provocative acts, like another intercontinental ballistic missile launch or a nuclear test, in time for its key political events, including the 110th birthday of its late national founder Kim Il-sung on Friday.

"The two navies strengthen all-domain awareness and maneuvers across a distributed maritime environment," the 7th Fleet based in Yokosuka, Japan, said. "Bilateral operations like this one reassure our allies and partners of the U.S. commitment to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific region."

It marks the first such carrier maneuvers of the U.S. Navy in the East Sea since late 2017, when tensions soared due to a string of Pyongyang's major provocations, including its sixth nuclear test.

In November 2017, the U.S. sent three flattops -- USS Ronald Reagan, USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roosevelt -- to the East Sea operational area, called the Korea Theater of Operations (KTO), in an unprecedented display of force against North Korea.

Source: Yonhap News Agency