US bombers conduct live-fire drill near North Korean border

Two US Air Force bombers have conducted a rare live-fire drill in South Korea and flown close to the heavily militarized border with North Korea — a show of force following North Korea’s test-launch of a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile.

South Korea’s military said in a statement that the exercise was meant to “sternly respond to the series of North Korea’s ballistic-missile launches.”

The statement said the long-range B-1B bombers, accompanied by South Korean jet fighters, simulated an attack on enemy ballistic-missile batteries and precision air strikes against underground enemy command posts.

It said each US bomber dropped a 900-kilogram laser-guided smart bomb that was designed to destroy a fortified bunker.

A B-1 in action. Photo from USAF.

A B-1 in action. Photo from USAF.

The bombs were dropped on targets at a firing range about 80 kilometers south of the land border with North Korea. The planes then flew close to the border before turning back to Anderson Air Base in Guam from where they were deployed.

“Through this drill, the South Korean and US air forces demonstrated strong determination to thoroughly punish the enemy for its provocative acts, and showed off their capability to pulverize enemy command posts,” the South Korean statement said.

The US Air Force said two of its B-1B bombers flew over the disputed South China Sea late on July 6 in a move that asserts the right to treat the area as international territory, despite China’s territorial claims in the busy waterway.

Those flights were conducted after the US bombers participated in a joint training exercise with Japanese jet fighters over the neighboring East China Sea — just to the south of the Korean Peninsula.

Photo by US Forces Korea

Two US Air Force B-1B strategic bombers from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, conducted training with fighter aircraft from the Japan Air Self Defense Force and a low-level flight with fighter aircraft from the Republic of Korea. Photo by US Forces Korea

Washington wants China to do more to pressure North Korea to stop its research into long-range missiles and nuclear weapons.

Also in response to North Korea’s July 4 test, which demonstrated that North Korea’s arsenal is capable of striking parts of Alaska with an ICBM, US and South Korean forces on July 5 fired ballistic missiles in a drill simulating an attack on North Korea’s leadership.

South Korea said that test was meant “as a strong message of warning.”

The US Missile Defense Agency said on July 7 that it would soon test an anti-ballistic-missile system in Alaska.

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