Only one of the two Air Force B-1B bombers that was slated to fly from Guam to South Korea and participate in Vigilant Ace actually made the mission and participated in the show of force, featuring more than 230 U.S. and South Korean aircraft.
Two bombers were supposed to depart from Guam, but the second bomber “reported a maintenance issue while taxiing to the runway for takeoff, according to an Air Force officer who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media,” Fox News reported.
“We only had a 30-minute launch window to meet the tanker,” the officer told Fox.
Vigilant Ace will end Friday, but this is not the end of aircraft woes for the Air Force, which is currently lacking about 2,000 pilots and 4,000 aircraft mechanics, it says.
The Air Force experienced another hitch in South Korea when an F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jet had to be towed to a hangar after a malfunction while landing. The F-22 ended up not have any problems, the Air Force later said.
The U.S. also sent F-22 stealth fighter jets, F-35A and F-35B stealth jets, and F-16C fighter planes to the Korean Peninsula for the joint drill with South Korea this week, in a huge show of force against North Korea – despite warnings from the country led by dictator Kim Jong Un.
The war drills cause even higher tensions with North Korea, which has this week said that nuclear war is inevitable if the U.S. and South Korea keep up the exercises.
Rhetoric out of Pyongyang during war games is often threatening during such drills, as the North Korean regime and Kim Jong Un consider them rehearsals for an invasion of their country.
“Vigilant Ace” exercises are slated to go through Friday.
This comes after North Korea last week launched a new Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that it claims was the “most powerful” to date. Experts and officials have since said the latest launch shows that North Korean missiles could reach anywhere in the world.
The ICBM was launched Tuesday from Sain Ni and traveled more than 600 miles before crashing into the Sea of Japan, within Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The ICBM was in flight for more than 50 minutes.
The BBC reported that, based on its trajectory, the missile could have traveled more than 8,000 miles, which means it could reach “any part of the continental United States.”
“But it seems likely, the analysis adds, that the missile had a very light mock warhead, meaning it might lack the power to carry a nuclear payload, which is much heavier, over that distance,” the BBC pointed out. “North Korea, however, says the Hwasong-15 could reach mainland US carrying a ‘super-large heavy warhead.’”
The missile launch defied international sanctions on the country led by dictator Kim Jong Un, and it drew ire across the globe, as this was the highest missile North Korea has ever launched – reaching nearly 2,800 miles at its highest.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the missile test went “higher, frankly, than any previous shot they have taken,” and that North Korea can hit “everywhere in the world, basically.”
North Korea had not tested a missile in more than two months – odd, considering the regime led by dictator Kim Jong Un has conducted now-16 missile tests this year alone, and also launched a nuclear bomb.
North Korea in early September conducted its sixth ever successful nuclear missile launch and claims that the country now has a Hydrogen bomb it can place on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
The most recent North Korean missile test was on Sept. 14, when North Korea launched an intermediate-range missile over Japan into the Pacific Ocean.