U.S. flies bombers over Korean peninsula with South Korean, Japanese fighter jets

SEOUL (Reuters) – The U.S. military flew two Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers over the Korean peninsula in a show of force late on Tuesday amid high tensions over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, South Korea’s military said.

The two B-1B bombers were accompanied by two F-15K fighters from the South Korean military after leaving their base in Guam, the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a news release on Wednesday.

The U.S. military said in a separate statement Japanese fighters had also joined the drill, making it the first night-time combined exercise for the U.S. bombers with fighters from Japan and South Korea.

After entering South Korean airspace, the two bombers carried out air-to-ground missile drills in waters off the east coast of South Korea, then flew over the South to waters between it and China to repeat the drill, the South’s release said.

The South Korean military said this was part of a regular exercise to bolster military defenses and also to display the alliance between the United States and South Korea.

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer assigned to the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, prepare for take-off to fly a bilateral mission with Japanese and South Korea Air Force jets in the vicinity of the Sea of Japan, from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, October 10, 2017. Staff Sgt. Joshua Smoot/U.S. Air Force/Handout via REUTERS

U.S. Air Force Major Patrick Applegate said: “Flying and training at night with our allies in a safe, effective manner is an important capability shared between the U.S., Japan and the Republic of Korea and hones the tactical prowess of each nations’ aviators.”

“This is a clear demonstration of our ability to conduct seamless operations with all of our allies anytime, anywhere,” the U.S. release quoted him as saying.

Two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers assigned to the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, taxi before take off to fly bilateral missions with Japanese and South Korea Air Force jets in…

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