SEOUL, South Korea --- A state-of-the-art U.S. stealth fighter jet malfunctioned after landing and had to be towed to a hangar during joint war games that kicked off on Monday, officials said.
The five-day annual training exercise known as Vigilant Ace began days after North Korea test-fired its most powerful missile, causing already high tensions to spike as it demonstrates rapid progress in its nuclear weapons program.
The drills involve 12,000 U.S. servicemembers along with South Korean airmen and more than 230 warplanes, including for the first time six F-22 Raptors, six F-35A Lightning IIs and 12 F-35Bs. The B variant is the short-takeoff, vertical-landing version of the stealth aircraft.
One of the Raptors touched down at about 8 a.m. Monday at a South Korean base in Gwangju, 170 miles south of Seoul, but then couldn’t move and had to be towed, a South Korean official told Stars and Stripes.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the issue, didn’t provide more details, referring other questions to the Air Force. The 7th Air Force public affairs office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Yonhap News Agency first reported the problem and published photos of an F-22 being towed. (end of excerpt)
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