SEOUL – Washington deployed on Wednesday at least one strategic B-1 bomber as part of ongoing joint air drills this week with South Korea over the Korean peninsula.
The bomber, which is based out of Andersen Air Force base on Guam Island, conducted simulated bombing drills with American F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters and South Korean F-15 fighters as part of the annual “Vigilant ACE” air combat drills, a spokesperson for the United States Seventh Air Force told EFE.
The drill took place in the north-eastern Gangwon province, about 155 kilometers (96 miles) south of the border with North Korea, according to South Korea’s Defense ministry spokesperson.
It is increasingly common for the US to deploy B-1 bombers during the drills over South Korea, to underline its military superiority over North Korea.
They were involved in drills shortly before US President Donald Trump’s visit to South Korea as part of his Asia tour last month.
Although the annual Vigilant ACE exercises were planned ahead of North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test on Nov. 29, they serve as a pertinent response to the test.
This year’s drill, which runs until Dec. 8, are the largest joint air simulations ever on the Korean peninsula, with 230 aircraft and some 12,000 troops mobilized.
The North Korean Army’s test launch of the Hwasong-15, its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile to date, has put Pyongyang closer to striking the US with nuclear weapons.
During the joint drills, the allies simulate attacks on North Korean nuclear facilities and self-propelled launch platforms such as those used by the Kim Jong-un regime to deploy their missiles.
North Korea’s weapons tests, combined with US President Donald Trump’s war rhetoric, has escalated tensions on the peninsula to unprecedented levels since the end of overt hostilities in the Korean War (1950-53).