The U.S. and South Korea put on a show of force Thursday, local time, as four U.S. F-35B fighter jets and two B-1B bombers joined four South Korean F-15 fighter jets to drop bombs near the North Korean border in a mock military exercise.
The mock bombing comes the same week that North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan – the first time it had done so, and that missile might have been a test for Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific.
Kim Jong Un vowed there would be more missile tests, despite multiple U.S. warnings from various officials, including President Donald Trump and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
“Our forward-deployed force will be the first to the fight, ready to deliver a lethal response at a moment’s notice if our nation calls,” the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) tweeted Thursday.
“By forward-basing [the F-35], the most advanced aircraft in the world, here in the Pacific, we are enabling the [U.S. Marine Corps] to respond quickly,” PACOM said.
A South Korean official told CNN that the exercise was meant to “strongly counter North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile tests and development of nuclear weapons,” CNN reported.
The U.S. Air Force said American bombers flew from Guam, and the four stealth jet fighters flew from a U.S. Marine Corps base in Japan, CNN reported.
The mock bombing drill took place over the Pilsung Range in the eastern province of Gangwon.
USPACOM said the flyover was “a direct respond to North Korea’s intermediate-range ballistic missile launch,” CNN reported.
“North Korea’s actions are a threat to our allies, partners and homeland, and their destabilizing actions will be met accordingly,” said Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, Commander of Pacific Air Forces, CNN said.
President Donald Trump tweeted yesterday that “talking is not the answer” when it comes to dealing with North Korea.
On Monday, North Korea launched what is believed to have been an intermediate-range Hwasong-12 missile that flew over Hokkaido Island, in Japan.
The missile landed in the Pacific Ocean, and officials later said that the U.S. territory of Guam had not been in danger of being in range of the missile.
The missile was characterized as the “most provocative missile test in a very long time, perhaps ever,” BBC News said.
North Korea also fired three missiles on Saturday, local time.