Bombers Conduct Bilateral Flights After North Korea ICBM Launch
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --
In response to North Korea's ballistic missile and nuclear programs and as a part of the continuing demonstration of ironclad U.S. commitment to its allies, two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers under the command of U.S. Pacific Air Forces joined their counterparts from South Korea and Japan in sequenced bilateral missions yesterday.
The missions were in direct response to North Korea's escalatory launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles on July 3 and July 28, officials said.
"North Korea remains the most urgent threat to regional stability," said Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy, the Pacific Air Forces commander. "Diplomacy remains the lead; however, we have a responsibility to our allies and our nation to showcase our unwavering commitment while planning for the worst-case scenario. If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal, and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing."
After taking off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, the B-1s flew to Japanese airspace, where they were joined by two Japan Air Self-Defense Force Mitsubishi F-2 fighter jets. The B-1s then flew over the Korean Peninsula where they were joined by four South Korean Air Force F-15 Eagle fighter jets. The B-1s then performed a low-pass over Osan Air Base, South Korea, before leaving South Korean airspace and returning to Guam.
Throughout the approximately 10-hour mission, the aircrews practiced intercept and formation training, enabling them to improve their combined capabilities and tactical skills, while also strengthening the longstanding military-to-military relationships in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
U.S. Pacific Command maintains flexible bomber and fighter capabilities in the Indo-Asia-Pacific theater, retaining the ability to quickly respond to any regional threat in order to defend the U.S. homeland and in support of allies.
(From a Pacific Air Forces news release.)