'Grave provocation': North Korea condemns air-war games

Also included are basic survival tools and some more specialist gear such as gas masks and hoods to protect against acid rain

"The US aircraft that have landed on South Korea include six F-22s, six F-35s, six EA-18Gs", the official said.

The South Korean military has launched a special unit to "decapitate" North Korea's leadership, including the country's powerful leader Kim Jong-un, in case a war breaks out in the Korean peninsula.

His comments came three days after North Korea carried out its first ballistic missile test in two months, in defiance of United Nations resolutions.

The air forces of South Korea and the United States are ready for another joint exercise, set to start on Monday.

North Korea said the new missile soared to an altitude of about 4,475 km (2,780 miles), more than 10 times the height of the International Space Station, and flew 950 km during its 53-minute flight - higher and longer than any North Korean missile, before landing in the sea near Japan.

White House national security adviser HR McMaster says the U.S. is in a race to address the threat from North Korea.

With every missile launch or nuclear test, Kim has improved his country's capabilities, McMaster said. China is North Korea's only significant ally, but it has grown increasingly frustrated over the North's nuclear and missile tests that have brought a threat of war and chaos to China's northeastern border.

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Cloaked with the world's most advanced stealth coating, the F-22s and F-35s would likely be called upon to lead a potential air campaign against North Korea should the situation escalate to the point of using military force, experts say.

The Rodong Sinmun commentary said the aerial wargames show "the enemies' moves to start a nuclear war have reached a risky stage".

It is scheduled to last five days and comes less than a week after the rogue state's latest intercontinental ballistic missile test, which Pyongyang claimed was capable of hitting the USA mainland.

"We're asking China not to do us or anybody else a favor", he said.

China should take unilateral action to cut off North Korean oil imports, McMaster said, adding, "you can't shoot a missile without fuel".

"I would need to see a bit more differences to fully believe they made this themselves", Dave Schmerler, a research associate at the James Martin Centre for Nonproliferation Studies, said of the launch transport vehicle.

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