A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber on Wednesday flew over the Korean peninsula and conducted a simulated bombing drill in tandem with six U.S. stealth fighter jets.
Two F-22 Raptors, along with four F-35A and F-35B Lightning II stealth fighter jets, joined bilateral training with aircraft from the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF), the U.S. Seventh Air Force told NK News.
The drill did not constitute part of the ongoing five-day “Vigilant Ace” air combat exercise, which will run until Friday.
The B-1B bomber took off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam to carry out a “Continuous Bomber Presence (CBP) mission,” the U.S. Air Force said.
U.S. Air Force bombers, including the B-1B Lancer, the B-2 Spirit, and the B-52 Stratofortress “have been in continuous rotation to Guam” since 2004.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) also said the U.S. and South Korea air forces had conducted a “combined simulated exercise” in the presence of a B-1B bomber.
The drill is reportedly intended to enhance the U.S. Army’s ability to provide extended deterrence as the “part of the regular deployment exercise.”
Two F-15K and KF-16 fighters from the South Korean air force were mobilized for the bombing exercise at Pilsung Shooting Range in Taebaek, Gangwon province near the inter-Korean border.
The B-1B Lancer reportedly only simulated the bombing, while the two F-15K fighter jets of the ROKAF used live-fire MK-82 ordnance.
“The Republic of Korea and U.S. Air Force showed off the allies’ determination and capability for strong punishment in response to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats through the exercise,” the JCS said in a written statement.
“[Both] have mastered the deployment capabilities of rapid reaction forces by improving the interoperability of combine forces and the ability to execute joint operations in the time of peace and war.”
The drill comes as 230 aircraft, including F-16 Fighting Falcons and EA-18G Growlers, have been mobilized for the Vigilant Ace exercise.
Six F-35A and 12 F-35B Lightning II stealth fighter jets, as well as six F-22 Raptors, are taking part in the drill, bringing the total number of stealth fighters participating to 24.
U.S. Air Force fighter jets conduct training flight over South Korea ahead of joint U.S. and South Korea training exercise. 🇺🇸🇰🇷 pic.twitter.com/eLSPQdzDNk
— Dan Scavino Jr. (@Scavino45) December 6, 2017
The deployment of the U.S. Lancer also comes a month after two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flew over the Korean peninsula in early November ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Seoul.
Two strategic bombers conducted “simulated air-to-surface missile-firing drill” at Pilsung Shooting Range – also the site of Wednesday’s drill.
Washington has in recent months defied North Korean warnings that the DPRK has “the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they’re not yet inside the airspace border of our country.”
On October 10, a formation of B-1B Lancers conducted a simulated air-to-surface missile-firing drill on the eastern coast at night after entering the Korea Air Defense Identification Zone (KADIZ).
The U.S. Airforce said the drill was the “first time” that B-1B Lancers had conducted combined training with aircraft from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) and the ROKAF.
The B-1B Lancer was converted to only deliver conventional weapons in 2011 under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), but North Korean state media has continued to describe it as a “nuclear strategic” bomber.
The bomber is able to “carry the largest conventional payload of both guided and unguided weapons,” according to the U.S. Air Force.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: U.S. Pacific Command
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