US BOMBERS FLY OVER KOREA PENINSULA AFTER ICBM TEST
SEOUL— The United States flew two supersonic bombers over the Korean Peninsula in a show of force against North Korea following the country’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test.
The B-1B bombers were escorted by South Korean and Japanese fighter jets as they performed a low pass over an air base near the South Korean capital of Seoul before returning to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, the US Pacific Air Forces said in a statement on Sunday.
North Korea said it conducted another successful ICBM test on Friday that proved its ability to strike America’s mainland, drawing a sharp warning from US President Donald Trump.
Analysts also confirmed that flight data from the second ICBM test indicated that a broader part of the mainland United States, including Los Angeles and Chicago, was now in range of North Korea’s weapons.
‘Most urgent threat’
The B-1B flight, conducted on Saturday, was in direct response to the ICBM test and the previous launch earlier this month of the Hwasong-14 rocket, according to the US statement.
“North Korea remains the most urgent threat to regional stability,” said Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander. “Diplomacy remains the lead. However, we have a responsibility to our allies and our nation to showcase our unwavering commitment while planning for the worstcase scenario.”
O’Shaughnessy added: “If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing.”
The United States has often used overflights of the supersonic B-1B Lancer bomber and other warplanes in times of heightened animosities with North Korea.
B-1B bombers have been sent to South Korea for flyovers several times this year in response to North Korea’s banned missile tests and also in the aftermath of the death of a US college student last month after he was released by Pyongyang in a coma.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who personally supervised the midnight test launch of the ICBM on Friday night, said it was a “stern warning” to the United States that it would not be safe from destruction if it tried to attack, according to the North’s official KCNA news agency.
North Korea’s state television broadcast pictures of the ICBM launch, showing the missile lifting off in a fiery blast in darkness and Kim cheering with military aides.
China, North Korea’s main ally, said it opposed the missile launches that it said violated UN Security Council resolutions designed to curb Pyongyang’s banned nuclear and missile programs.
“At the same time, China hopes all parties act with caution, to prevent tensions from continuing to escalate,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
In Washington, however, Trump said he was “very disappointed in China.”
In two messages on Twitter, he said: “Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet … they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!”
Range of 10,400 km
The Hwasong-14 ICBM, named after the Korean word for Mars, reached an altitude of 3,724.9 kilometers (2,314.6 miles) and flew 998 km (620 miles) for 47 minutes and 12 seconds before landing in the waters off the Korean Peninsula’s east coast, according to KCNA.
Western experts said calculations based on that flight data and estimates from the US, Japanese and South Korean militaries showed that the missile could have been capable of going as far into the American heartland Denver and Chicago.
David Wright of the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists wrote in a blog post that if the ICBM had flown on a standard trajectory, the missile would have had a range of 10,400 km(6,500 miles).
The Hwasong-14 ICBM, which North Korea first tested on July 4, is the highlight of several new weapons systems that Pyongyang launched this year.
Other N. Korea missiles
The weapons include an intermediate-range missile that North Korea says is capable of hitting Alaska and Hawaii, and a solid-fuel midrange missile, which analysts say can be fired faster and more secretly than liquid-fuel missiles.
North Korea often shows mockup images of a missile hitting key US landmarks in its media.
The isolated country has referred to the United States as its sworn enemy in its propaganda since the 1950-53 Korean War in which North Korea, backed by Russia and China, fought against South Korea, supported by the United States.
SHOWOF FORCE Two US supersonic bombers fly over the Korean Peninsula in a show of force against North Korea following its latest intercontinental ballistic missile test.
LOWPASS The two US Lancer bombers are escorted by South Korea and Japanese fighter jets that made a low pass near Seoul on Sunday.