A pair of American bombers, escorted by four American stealth fighters and two fighters from South Korea, conducted a flyover of the Korean Peninsula two days after a North Korean missile flew over Japan before landing in the Pacific Ocean.
The nuclear-capable B-1B Lancer bombers flew in from Andersen Air Force Base on Guam, escorted by four F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters from a Marine Corps Air Base in Iwakuni, Japan and two South Korean F-15 Eagle fighters, in a show-of-force designed to “strongly counter North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile tests and development of nuclear weapons,” according to a defense official who spoke to CNN.
The aerial formation conducted a mock bombing drill over the Pilsung Range in the eastern province of Gangwon, in direct response to a recent missile launch by North Korea that passed over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.
“North Korea’s actions are a threat to our allies, partners and homeland, and their destabilizing actions will be met accordingly,” said Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, commander of Pacific Air Forces. “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.”
The state-run Korean Central News Agency said Tuesday’s missile launch over Japan was “a meaningful prelude to containing Guam,” which it called the “advanced base of invasion” for US forces, promising future launches “targeting the Pacific, where the US imperialist aggressor forces’ bases are stationed.”
“It should not be forgotten even a moment that the whole of South Korea can turn into ruins,” the statement continued.
A spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry made a thinly veiled reference to joint American-South Korean military drills, arguing the situation on the Korean Peninsula is “not like a movie script or computer game.”
“It is real. It exists,” said Hua Chunying. “It is an important and serious issue that directly affects people’s safety in the South and North. And it also affects the peace of the whole region. We hope every side makes rational judgments and wise decisions in a responsible manner for the people and regional peace and stability.”