New Delhi: A US B-1B strategic bomber will participate in the ongoing joint air drills with South Korea on Saturday, a defence ministry official in Seoul told AFP, a show of force after a blitz of missile launches by North Korea.
Pyongyang launches intercontinental ballistic missile
Pyongyang’s flurry of launches on Wednesday and Thursday included an intercontinental ballistic missile and one that landed near South Korea’s territorial waters for the first time since the end of the Korean War in 1953.
The United States and South Korea have warned that the series of launches could culminate in a nuclear test by North Korea, and extended their largest-ever air force drills to Saturday in response.
US Air Force’ B-1B strategic bomber to participate
A South Korean defence ministry official told AFP that a US Air Force B-1B strategic bomber would participate on the last day of the exercises, dubbed Vigilant Storm, which were originally scheduled from Monday to Friday this week.
“B-1B is scheduled to participate in the afternoon training,” the official said, without providing further details.
The show of force came a day after South Korea scrambled fighter jets in response to what it said was the mobilization of 180 North Korean warplanes.
North Korea ramps up missile launches
Pyongyang has ramped up its missile launches in protest over the US-South Korea air drills. Such exercises have long infuriated North Korea, which sees them as rehearsals for an invasion.
Pyongyang had called Vigilant Storm “an aggressive and provocative military drill targeting” North Korea, and said the United States and South Korea would “pay the most horrible price in history” if they continued.