Two U.S. B-1B bombers, accompanied by fighter jets from South Korea and Japan, carry out exercise near the Korean peninsula.
North Korea said on Thursday that U.S. B-1B bombers flew over the Korean Peninsula and carried out bombing drills simulating attacks on major targets in the country, Reuters reported, citing the North’s official KCNA news agency.
The strategic bombers, escorted by U.S. and South Korean fighter jets, flew from the Anderson Air Force Base in Guam, to conduct a “surprise” strike drill, KCNA said.
The U.S. Air Force later confirmed that two Guam-based U.S. B-1B bombers, accompanied by fighter jets from South Korea and Japan, carried out an exercise in the vicinity of the Korean peninsula.
“The bilateral continuous bomber presence (CBP) mission was planned in advance … and was not in response to any current event,” the Air Force said in a statement quoted by Reuters.
Several weeks ago, the U.S. military flew two Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers over the Korean peninsula in a joint exercise with the South Korean and Japanese militaries.
The drill took place as President Donald Trump met with his national security team to discuss “a range of options” on North Korea in response to its increasing nuclear ambitions.
Tensions have increased around the Korean Peninsula in recent months. Pyongyang in recent months has sparked global alarm by conducting a sixth nuclear test and test-launching missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, while President Donald Trump and the North’s ruler Kim Jong-Un have traded threats of war and personal insults.
During a visit to New York for the UN General Assembly in September, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho raised the possibility that North Korea could test a powerful hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.
Later, senior North Korean official Ri Yong Pil warned the U.S. to take Pyongyang’s threat of setting off a hydrogen bomb “literally”, adding the country “has always brought its words into action.”
This past Saturday, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned North Korea of a “massive military response” to any use of nuclear weapons.
“Make no mistake — any attack on the United States or our allies will be defeated,” Mattis said at a joint press conference with his South Korean counterpart Song Young-Moo.