South Korea, US deploy strategic bomber after Pyongyang’s missile test
(Update 1: Updates headline, text with Seoul+Washington drills)
Seoul, Mar 19 (EFE).- The air forces of South Korea and the United States on Sunday carried out drills with an American B-1 bomber and fighter jets of both country, hours after North Korea test-launched a short-range ballistic missile.
The maneuvers were carried out over South Korea as part of joint exercises being carried out by the two allies since Mar. 13, which has triggered Pyongyang into carrying out multiple missile tests.
Apart from the B-1B bomber, which was already deployed in the Korean peninsula on Mar. 3, the drills included F-35A stealth fighters from South Korean and US F-16 jets.
The deployment comes on the same day when North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan – called the East Sea in the two Koreas – and three days after the regime launched an intercontinental ballistic missile.
“The South Korea-US alliance is maintaining the highest level of combined defense posture against North Korea’s consistent threats to regional stability,” the South Korean defense ministry said in a statement.
South Korea’s military Joint Chief’s of Staff detected the latest missile test by Pyongyang on Sunday morning, while the Japanese defense ministry also confirmed the launch and said that the missile fell outside its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) around 11.20 am.
The recent missile tests are being seen as Pyongyang’s response to the ongoing joint military exercises by Washington and Seoul, which have repeatedly been dubbed as a “rehearsal for invasion” by the North.
The North Korean regime had previously warned of an “unprecedented response” to the drills.
The ICBM launched on Thursday traveled about 1,000 kilometers at a maximum altitude of over 6,000 km before falling outside Japan’s EEZ some 250 kilometers west of Oshima island, off Hokkaido, into the Sea of Japan. Pyongyang said this was a Hwasong-17 missile.
The regime subsequently boasted that the latest ICBM had the longest reach among its missiles.
The weapon was test-launched barely hours before South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol visited Tokyo to meet Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for the first bilateral visit between the two sides in 12 years, during which the two leaders pledged to strengthen security cooperation – along with the US – with an eye on Pyongyang. EFE