SEOUL, South Korea — The United States on Thursday flew some of its most advanced warplanes over South Korea in a show of force against North Korea, after Pyongyang fired a midrange ballistic missile over Japan earlier this week, South Korea’s military said.
Two U.S. B-1B bombers and four F-35 fighters participated in training with South Korean F-15 fighter jets, an official from Seoul’s Defense Ministry said.
The planes took part in bombing exercises in a military field near South Korea’s eastern coast, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether they were live-fire drills, according to the official. The B-1Bs were flown in from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam while the F-35s came from a U.S. base in Iwakuni, Japan, the official said. He didn’t want to be named, citing office rules.
Such flyovers are common when animosity rises on the Korean Peninsula, which is technically in a state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
North Korea on Tuesday flew a potentially-nuclear capable Hwasong-12 intermediate range missile over northern Japan and later called it a “meaningful prelude” to containing the U.S. territory of Guam.
Pyongyang had earlier threatened to fire a salvo of Hwasong-12s toward Guam, which is home to key U.S. military bases and strategic long-range bombers the North finds threatening.
On Wednesday, President Trump appeared to signal that he had given up on diplomatic efforts to ease the standoff with North Korea, tweeting that, “!”
Hours later, however, Mr. Trump’s Secretary of Defense James Mattis contradicted that, saying at the Pentagon, in direct response to a question about his boss’s remarks: “No. We’re never out of diplomatic solutions. We always look for more. We’re never complacent.”