U.S., Japanese and South Korean forces on Monday flew several fighter jets over the Korean Peninsula and dropped live weapons at the training range there, in a show of force in response to North Korea’s most recent intermediate-range ballistic missile launch, according to the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM).
Two B-1B Lancer bombers from Anderson Air Force Base, in Guam; four U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II fifth-generation advanced fighters from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, in Japan; four Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) F-15K fighters; and four Koku Jieitai (Japan Air Self-Defense Force) F-2 fighter jets executed the mission, PACOM said.
“PACOM maintains the capability to respond to any aggressive actions in the [Indo-Asia-Pacific] at a moment’s notice,” PACOM tweeted Monday.
“The United States’ commitment to the defense of our [Indo-Asia-Pacific] allies is unshakable and ironclad,” PACOM also tweeted.
The U.S. Air Force and Marines Corps, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and the Republic of Korea Air Force joined forces in a bilateral show of force in response to North Korea launching yet another ballistic missile eastward over Japan on Sept. 14.
North Korea on Friday launched a ballistic missile that flew over Japan and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs said the missile was launched from North Korea’s capital region, specifically Sunan, which is where Pyongyang’s international airport is located.
The North Korean missile reached a height of 480 miles and traveled 2,300 miles, which is more than the North Korean missile launch in August, which flew 340 miles high and 1,700 miles out.
This is only the third North Korean missile to fly over Japan since 1998.
The North Korean launch came hours after North Korea threatened to blow the United States to “ashes and darkness” and has said it will “sink” the country of Japan, following a United Nations resolution that bans 90 percent of its exports.
The U.S. and ROKAF aircraft flew across the Korean Peninsula and then released live weapons at the Pilsung Range training area, in the eastern province of Gangwon, and the F-35Bs, B-1B bombers and Koku Jieitai fighter jets flew over waters near Kyushu, Japan, PACOM said.
“U.S. Pacific Command maintains the ability to respond to any threat in the Indo-Asia-Pacific theater at a moment’s notice,” PACOM pointed out.
The U.S. also made its presence known at the end of August, when 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,” PACOM tweeted at the time.