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What is the 'Max Thunder' exercise? Updated: 2018-05-16 15:28:24 KST

The 'Max Thunder' drills are a joint military exercise that takes place twice a year.
They are part of a continuous program of exercises designed to enhance interoperability between South Korean and U.S. forces, and is not tied to any specific real-world events or situations.
The drills are the largest air force exercise held on the Korean Peninsula.
They are also seen as an exercise that highlights the long-standing military partnership, commitment and enduring friendship between the two allies to help ensure peace and security in Northeast Asia.
So how is the 'Max Thunder' exercise being held this year?
The joint exercise, involves some 100 warplanes, including eight F-22 stealth fighters, as well as F-15K and F-16K jets. However, a military source told Arirang News that U.S. B-52 strategic bombers are unlikely to participate in this year's exercise.
But the highlight of this year's exercise are the eight F-22 fighter jets that are making their debut.
Equipped with state-of-the-art stealth technology, the 5th generation fighter jet, is known be to capable of bringing down one hundred 4th generation fighters, like the F-15 and the F-16 on its own.
The main bay of the F-22 Raptor can accommodate six launchers for beyond-visual-range missiles and each side bay has launchers for short-range missiles.
If that isn't devastating enough, four of the launchers can be replaced with two bomb racks that can each carry 1,000-pound bombs.
Could the sheer size of the exercise be the reason for North Korea's sudden about-face?
While 'Max Thunder' is known to be routine and defensive in nature, both allies are now left hoping this year's exercise won't put a dampener on the path to peace.
Cha Sang-mi, Arirang News.
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