SEOUL --- The U.S. Air Force's F-35B stealth fighter will take part in the ongoing Foal Eagle joint exercise with South Korea to hone its precision strike capabilities, military officials familiar with the matter said Thursday.
The F-35B Lightning II fighter is expected to carry out ground attack maneuvers during the two-month-long exercise between Seoul and Washington, the officials told Yonhap News Agency asking not to be identified.
"The addition of the F-35B is meant to deliver a strong message to the North that they could be used against the rogue state in case of a conflict breaking out on the Korean Peninsula," an official said.
The first F-35B squadron was deployed to Iwakuni, Japan, in January amid growing nuclear and missile threats posed by North Korea.
The F-35B -- which is capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings -- is regarded by the military as a strategic asset that can be employed to hit well-defended key targets in North Korea.
The stealth fighter can reach speeds of up to Mach 1.6 and has a radar system that is capable of detecting a target up to 500 kilometers away.