U.S. military flexes its muscles over South Korea
The United States flew two supersonic bombers over the Korean Peninsula on Sunday in a show of force against North Korea following the country’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile test. The United States also said it conducted a successful test of a missile defence system located in Alaska.
The B-1 bombers were escorted by South Korean fighter jets as they performed a lowpass over an airbase near the South Korean capital, Seoul, before returning to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, the U.S. Pacific Air Forces said in a statement.
It said the mission was a response to North Korea’s two ICBM tests this month. Analysts say flight data from the North’s second test, conducted Friday night, showed that a broader part of the mainland United States, including Los Angeles and Chicago, is now in range of Pyongyang’s weapons.
Vice-President Mike Pence said Sunday during a visit to Estonia that the U.S. and its allies plan to increase pressure on North Korea to end its nuclear program.
Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander, called North Korea “the most urgent threat to regional stability.”
“Diplomacy remains the lead. However, we have a responsibility to our allies and our nation to showcase our unwavering commitment while planning for the worst-case scenario,” O’Shaughnessy said.
“If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal, and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing.”
The U.S. Missile Defence Agency said a Terminal High Altitude Area Defence, or THAAD, system located in Kodiak, Alaska, was successfully tested on Saturday night, Alaska time. It said that a medium-range ballistic missile was air-launched over the Pacific, and that the THAAD system detected, tracked and intercepted the target.
A U.S. air force B-1B Lancer bomber, top, flies with South Korean fighter jets during a South Korea-U.S. joint live fire drill on Sunday.