Aug. 31 (UPI) — The United States, Japan and South Korea carried out a military show of force by conducting drills with stealth bombers following North Korea‘s most recent missile test, officials said Thursday.
The Pentagon on Wednesday deployed two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam and four new U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II fighters, which U.S. Pacific Command described as its “newest and most advanced fighter.”
“This mission was conducted in direct response to North Korea’s intermediate-range ballistic missile launch, which flew directly over northern Japan on August 28 amid rising tension over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile development programs,” U.S. Pacific Command said in a statement Thursday.
The Japan Air Self-Defense Force deployed two Koku Jieitai F-15Js and the Republic of Korea Air Force deployed four F-15Ks.
In the 10-hour mission, Japanese and U.S. bombers flew over waters near Japan’s Kyushu island. U.S. aircraft then met with South Korean fighters to fly across the Korean Peninsula for target practice — by dropping live munitions at the Pilsung Range training area in Gangwon-do province before returning to their respective stations.
“North Korea’s actions are a threat to our allies, partners and homeland, and their destabilizing actions will be met accordingly,” U.S. Pacific Air Forces Cmdr. Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy said. “This complex mission clearly demonstrates our solidarity with our allies and underscores the broadening cooperation to defend against this common regional threat. Our forward-deployed force will be the first to the fight, ready to deliver a lethal response at a moment’s notice if our nation calls.”
North Korea launched a missile on Tuesday — the latest in a series of tests by Pyongyang — that flew over Japanese territory before splashing into the Pacific Ocean.
Following the missile test, President Donald Trump responded by saying “all options are on the table” for the United States’ handling of Pyongyang’s “threatening and destabilizing actions.”
South Korea’s air force said its fighters successfully dropped eight bombs during the drill.
“If North Korea threatens the safety of our people and the RoK-U.S. alliance with nuclear and missiles, we will annihilate the leadership of the North Korean regime,” the South Korean Air Force said in a statement.