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US supersonic bombers fly over Korean Peninsula ahead of Trump visit

An Air Force B-1B Lancer assigned to the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron and deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., prepares for take off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Oct. 10, 2017.

JACOB SKOVO/U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO

By KIM GAMEL AND YOO KYONG CHANG | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 3, 2017

SEOUL, South Korea — Two U.S. supersonic bombers flew over the Korean Peninsula in a show of force a day before President Donald Trump leaves for his first official visit to Asia.

North Korea denounced Thursday’s flyover, calling it a “surprise nuclear strike drill” and accused the United States of stoking tensions in the region.

The Guam-based B-1B Lancers along with two South Korean fighter jets conducted a simulated bombing drill on a training field but did not use live weapons, South Korean military officials said.

Trump flies to Hawaii on Friday to begin an 11-day trip that will include stops in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

The growing nuclear and missile threat from North Korea will be at the top of his agenda. The communist state has test-fired dozens of missiles in recent months and conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3.

The Trump administration has agreed to send so-called U.S. strategic weapons to the South more regularly to boost deterrence efforts against the North.

Strategic assets generally include the bombers, nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers, and their presence infuriates Pyongyang. The Navy also has three aircraft carriers in the region.

“The ganger-like U.S. imperialists are ceaselessly resorting to their frantic nuclear threat and blackmail to stifle [North Korea] with nukes at any cost,” the Korean Central News Agency said after Thursday’s flyover. “The U.S. imperialist warmongers should not act rashly.”

It said the bombers flew from Andersen Air Force Base over Okinawa, Japan, and South Korea’s Jeju Island before heading to the sea east of the peninsula.

The Air Force did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

About 28,500 U.S. servicemembers are stationed in South Korea, which remains technically at war with the North after the 1950-53 conflict ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty.

chang.kyong@stripes.com

gamel.kim@stripes.com
Twitter: @kimgamel

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