US and South Korea are kicking off a big exercise just as North Korea threatens 'thermonuclear war'

The US and South Korean militaries are teaming up for a massive 11-day exercise featuring a large portion of their fighter aircraft fleet.

On Monday, Exercise Max Thunder kicked off to "enhance interoperability" between the US and South Korean forces, according to US Pacific Command. The event goes until Apr. 28.

Roughly 1,000 American service members and about 500 South Koreans will take part. The exercise will bring together US Air Force F-16s, Marine AV-8B Harriers, Navy EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft, and various aircraft from South Korea, to include the F-15K, F-16, F-5E, F-4E, and others.

VP Mike Pence visits South Korea

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VP Mike Pence visits South Korea
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visits the National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea, April 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is greeted by National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun during their meeting in Seoul, South Korea, April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence talks with National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun during their meeting in Seoul, South Korea, April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence shakes hands with U.S. soldier during a meeting with U.S. and South Korean soldiers at Camp Bonifas near the truce village of Panmunjom, in Paju, South Korea, April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence answers a reporter's question at the truce village of Panmunjom, South Korea, April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence looks toward the north from an observation post inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, South Korea, April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence stands next to his daughter looking toward the north through a pair of binocular from an observation post inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, South Korea, April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visits the National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea, April 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence arrives at Camp Bonifas near the truce village of Panmunjom, in Paju, South Korea, April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence shakes hands with commander General Vincent K. Brooks during an Easter fellowship dinner at a military base in Seoul, South Korea, April 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, left, burns incense at the National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, April. 16, 2017. REUTERS/Ahn Young-joon/Pool
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, third left, shakes hands with military officials at Camp Bonifas near the truce village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, on Monday, April 17, 2017. Pence�encouraged China to take action against North Korea while he met with troops a day after Kim Jong Un's regime defied the Trump administration with a ballistic missile test. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - APRIL 16: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence arrive at Osan airbase on April 16, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. During the three day visit to South Korea, Vice President Pence will spend Easter Sunday with the U.S. and S. Korean troops and their families. He will also meet with Korea's acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn, the national assembly speaker Chung Sye-kyun and local business leaders. (Photo by Song Kyung-Seok-Pool/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - APRIL 17: (L to R) U.S. Vice President Mike Pence talks with South Korean acting president and prime minister Hwang Kyo-ahn during their meeting on April 17, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. During the three day visit to South Korea, Vice President Pence spends Easter Sunday with the U.S. and S. Korean troops and their families, meet with Korea's acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn and the national assembly speaker Chung Sye-kyun, then meet with the local business leaders. (Photo by South Korean Acting President and Prime Minister Office- Pool/Getty Images)
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Although the exercise is regularly scheduled and was planned months ago, North Korea often sees such training events as a prelude to war and responds with threats. On Tuesday, a senior North Korean official called military exercises between its southern neighbor and the US an "aggressive war drill."

The official also warned that "thermonuclear war may break out at any moment."

SEE ALSO: North Korea announces plans to conduct 'weekly' missile tests

The US, however, maintains that Max Thunder is a non-threatening training event that will enhance friendship between the South Korean and American personnel.

"This exercise will rigorously test our aerial combat capability and highlights the ironclad commitment between the U.S. and (South Korea), and the multifaceted capabilities we possess in this theater," Lt. Gen. Thomas W. Bergeson, 7th Air Force commander, told Yonhap News.

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