F-22s Practice Dogfights over the Korean Peninsula with ROK F-35s

A pair of U.S. F-22s practiced dogfighting with South Korean F-35As on May 16, making a rare appearance over the peninsula’s inland airspace.

The training saw the four stealthy fighters engaging in close-range air combat maneuver, taking turns in offensive and defensive posture in simulated confrontation scenarios, the Republic of Korea Air Force said in a release.

Four Raptors arrived earlier this week at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. The F-22s, assigned to the 19th and 199th Expeditionary Fighter Squadrons of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, have been operating out of Kadena Air Base in Japan since mid-April.

Kunsan’s 8th Fighter Wing said in a release that it will house, facilitate maintenance, and project the jets into South Korea’s airspace over the course of the next week. For now, it’s unclear if the Raptors will participate in more joint drills alongside the ROK Air Force during its upcoming biennial training starting May 17, featuring its F-35As, F-15Ks, F-16s, and FA-50s.

The 8th Fighter Wing’s release did note the F-22s would help “test Agile Combat Employment (ACE) capabilities within the Indo-Pacific region.” Air Force leaders have championed ACE—defined by small teams of Airmen and aircraft operating from remote or austere bases and moving quickly—as a key part of the service’s pivot toward great power competition with the likes of China.

To that end, the Air Force has been ramping up ACE training for months now, and the F-22 is no exception.

The Raptors’ presence in or near South Korea is unusual but not uncommon. Last February, B-1 Lancer and F-22 Raptors flew alongside Korean F-35s over the Yellow Sea. In December 2022, F-22s and Korean F-35 and F-15K fighter jets escorted a B-52 bomber near the waters off the peninsula. Most recently, Raptors were featured in Seoul’s defense exhibition in October. However, the air dominance fighter rarely participates in exercises over the Korean Peninsula.