According to South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense, long-range bombers participated in aerial exercises over the Korean Peninsula with US and South Korean fighter planes. The US B-52 bombers made their first mission to the peninsula in a month on Wednesday.
Lieutenant General Park Ha-sik, commander of the South Korean air force operation command, said in a statement that the exercises “show the strong resolve of the [South] Korea-US alliance and its perfect readiness to respond to any provocation by North Korea swiftly and overwhelmingly.”
The South Korean and US militaries have been expanding their combined military drills in response to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.
Last month, the allies conducted their biggest field exercises in five years as well as computer simulations for command post training. The US also sent the nuclear-powered USS Nimitz aircraft carrier for naval training with South Korea last week and US-South Korea-Japan anti-submarine drills this week.
North Korea sees such military exercises as provocations that show its rivals’ intention of attacking the country. A day after the last flight by a B-52 bomber to the peninsula on March 6, Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, warned that her country was ready to take “quick, overwhelming action” against the US and South Korea.
North Korea has since test-launched a series of nuclear-capable weapons designed to attack South Korea and the US. They have included the Hwasong-17, the North’s longest-range intercontinental ballistic missile; a nuclear-capable underwater drone that is under development; and cruise missiles fired from a submarine.
During a policy meeting on Wednesday, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said security cooperation among Seoul, Washington and Tokyo is crucial in dealing with North Korean nuclear threats and other challenges. He said South Korea must bolster its missile defence and ability to carry out preemptive and retaliatory attacks.