US sends supersonic bombers over Korean Peninsula
SEOUL, South Korea — Two U.S. supersonic bombers flew over the Korean Peninsula while a guided-missile destroyer visited a southern island Tuesday in the latest shows of force against a defiant North Korea.
The flyover comes as anger rose over the death of American university student Otto Warmbier, who died Monday after being released from 17 months in North Korean custody. President Donald Trump condemned “the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim.”
The Guam-based B-1B Lancers were accompanied by South Korean and Japanese fighter jets in what Pacific Air Forces tweeted was a joint mission “ensuring solidarity/resolve amongst #allies.”
North Korea routinely objects to such flyovers and military exercises, calling them “provocations” and justification for its development of nuclear weapons for self-defense.
A South Korean air force official said earlier that the bombers would fly over the peninsula for a few hours along with two South Korean F-15K fighter jets.
“Our air force plans to hold a joint drill with two B-1Bs in the sky of the Korean peninsula today,” Lt. Col. Kim Sung-duk, a public relations officer, told reporters.
The Yonhap news agency also quoted an unnamed source as saying the bombers would carry out a mock bombing practice at a range in the eastern province of Gangwon, but that could not be confirmed.
The B-1Bs — assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron and deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas — also flew in the vicinity of Kyushu, Japan, and the East China Sea as part of the 10-hour mission, the Air Force said.
It was the second time in about a month that the United States has deployed the Lancers to the divided peninsula this year as North Korea has conducted numerous missile tests despite international condemnation and punishing economic sanctions.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey also made a port visit on the southern Jeju Island, the latest in a string of U.S. warships to be deployed in the waters off the peninsula in recent months.
The U.S. maintains about 28,500 servicemembers in South Korea and 50,000 in Japan.