SEOUL, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- The United States is ramping up air defense in response to North Korea's nuclear test and recent missile launch.
The military is on schedule to deploy four F-22 stealth fighter jets to South Korea by Wednesday, an unidentified South Korean Defense Ministry official told Yonhap.
South Korean news network MBN reported this is the third U.S. strategic deployment in Korea since Pyongyang claimed it had conducted a "successful" nuclear test on Jan. 6.
South Korean media had previously reported the U.S. drone Gray Eagle is to be deployed on the Korean peninsula, and a long-range U.S. B-52 bomber flew across South Korea airspace in January after the North's nuclear test.
Pyongyang had threatened to "take on nuclear threats with a nuclear response," after the bomber returned to the U.S. Air Force base in Guam.
Lockheed Martin's F-22 Raptor is a powerful aircraft capable of 360-degree midair rotations and can clock up to 8,000 flight hours. It is only one of few aircraft that can supercruise, or keeps up supersonic flight, and can fly at a maximum speed of 1,500 mph.
The aircraft is also more powerful than South Korea's F-15K fighter jet, with double the engine output. It is capable of vertical takeoff on a 50-meter runway.
Naval power has added to the reinforcements: The USS North Carolina attack submarine arrived in South Korea for joint training, and the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis is to participate in an annual U.S.-South Korea defense drill in March.
"With the deployment of the strategic weapons, the United States is sending a strong warning message to North Korea and demonstrating its commitment to the defense of South Korea," a South Korean official said.