US B-52 bomber to make rare landing on Korean Peninsula amid North’s threats
Stars and Stripes October 16, 2023
SEOUL, South Korea — A B-52H Stratofortress will make a rare landing on the Korean Peninsula this week to showcase an “ironclad commitment” to the U.S.-South Korea alliance, the U.S. military announced Monday.
The Air Force bomber will also conduct a pair of flyovers during the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition, between Tuesday and Sunday, according to a statement from U.S. Forces Korea.
“These flyovers, air demonstrations and static displays, including the landing for the B-52 on the peninsula, is part of our continued pledge to promote peace, stability and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula,” Maj. Rachel Buitrago, spokeswoman for 7th Air Force at Osan Air Base south of Seoul, said in the release.
The landing will mark the first time a B-52 has touched down in South Korea in at least 30 years, Buitrago told Stars and Stripes by phone Monday. A B-1B Lancer out of Andersen Air Base, Guam, landed at Osan on Sept. 21, 2016.
USFK’s release did not specify where in South Korea the B-52H will touch down; however, multiple South Korean news outlets, citing unnamed military sources, reported Monday that it’s scheduled to land at an unidentified South Korean air base later this week.
The bomber announcement comes four days after the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan steamed into Busan, South Korea, following joint drills with South Korea and Japan. North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency responded to the port call by calling it an “undisguised military provocation” in a report Friday.
U.S. bombers, including B-52s, have flown over South Korean airspace several times this year as shows of force following North Korean missile tests.
A B-52H flew alongside four U.S. F-16s and three South Korean F-15K Slam Eagles for an escort drill on July 13, a day after the North fired an intercontinental ballistic missile that flew for 74 minutes, a flight record for the communist regime.
A U.S. B-1 Lancer bomber also flew with F-35B Lightning IIs, F-22 Raptors and South Korean F-35As over the Yellow Sea during a joint airpower drill on Feb. 1.
KCNA has accused the U.S. and South Korea of destabilizing the region with nuclear assets after past bomber flights.
A day after a U.S. B-52H flew with South Korean F-35As on April 5, KCNA published an article threatening the allies with “offensive action” and accused them of fueling the crisis “to the brink of a nuclear war.”
President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol agreed to deploy “strategic U.S. military assets in a timely and coordinated manner” during a White House summit on May 21. The two leaders cited the deployments as a means of addressing Pyongyang’s “evolving threat.”
North Korea has fired 21 ballistic missiles in 14 separate days of testing so far this year.
“The two presidents share the view that [North Korea’s] nuclear program presents a grave threat not only to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula but also the rest of Asia and the world,” Biden and Yoon said in a joint statement at the time. “Both leaders condemn [North Korea’s] escalatory ballistic missile tests this year, including multiple launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles, as clear violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions …”
Two months after Biden and Yoon’s agreement, the USS Kentucky, a U.S. submarine capable of launching nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles, was dispatched to Busan in the first port call to South Korea by an American nuclear-capable submarine in 42 years.