On August 31, 2017, 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 came the same week North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan – the first time it had done so.
A South Korean official said 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.
The mock bombing drill took place over the Pilsung Range in the eastern province of Gangwon.
U.S. Pacific Command said the flyover was “a direct response 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,” Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, Commander of Pacific Air Forces, said in a statement. “This complex mission clearly demonstrates our solidarity with our allies and underscores the broadening cooperation to defend against this common regional threat.”
North Korea has conducted a number of missile tests in 2017.
On August 29, 2017, North Korea launched an intermediate-range Hwasong-12 missile that flew over Hokkaido Island, in Japan, and traveled a total distance of 1,700 miles.
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.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the missile test “a reckless act of launching a missile that flies over our country is an unprecedented, serious and important threat.”