Dec. 4 (UPI) -- North Korea state media condemned South Korea for holding independent air force exercises in place of Vigilant Ace, the combined combat training for pilots Seoul and Washington agreed to suspend to mitigate tensions.
In a statement issued by Pyongyang's state-controlled KCNA on Tuesday, North Korea said the exercises are a blow to efforts toward reconciliation.
"The South Korean air force began comprehensive training on Monday to maintain military preparedness," KCNA said. "This is a dangerous military movement that reverses the situation of trust-building measures and reconciliation between North and South."
KCNA said the South Korean exercise involves 10 F-15K and KF-16 fighter jets, and that the drills will take place for five days.
"South Korea's joint chiefs of staff has publicly declared the air force training is to maintain military readiness and improve pilots' ability to carry out missions," the North Korean news agency added.
North Korea media said South Korea should "stop all war exercises that could create conflict."
South Korean news service News 1 reported Tuesday Seoul said the drill is taking place this week, from Monday to Friday, but to avoid provoking the North, Seoul is not deploying strategic assets like the F-22 Raptor.
Yonhap reported Tuesday independent South Korean exercises are being held in place of Vigilant Ace. F-15K fighters are being deployed but the training will be smaller in scale than in previous years, according to the report.
Vigilant Ace was suspended after U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo reached a consensus during the Security Consultative Meeting in Washington in October.