The U.S. Air Force conducted joint live-fire drills with regional allies near the Korean Peninsula Tuesday night.
Two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers assigned to the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron departed Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, flew to the East Sea/Sea of Japan, and joined with South Korean and Japanese military aircraft, according to a U.S. Pacific Air Forces statement.
Tuesday's drill marks the first time that U.S. Pacific Command B-1B Lancers have participated in a combined training exercise with Japanese Air Self-Defense Force and Republic of Korea Air Force fighters at night.
"This is a clear demonstration of our ability to conduct seamless operations with all of our allies anytime anywhere," explained U.S. Air Force Maj. Patrick Applegate, 613th Air Operation Center.
A B-1B Lancer drops cluster munitions. The B-1B uses radar and inertial navigation equipment enabling aircrews to globally navigate, update mission profiles and target coordinates in-flight, and precision bomb without the need for ground-based navigation aids. (U.S. Air Force photo)
The bombers, together with South Korean air assets, conducted an air-to-ground missile strike in the East Sea/Sea of Japan, according to Yonhap News Agency, citing the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff. The American bomber aircraft, after drilling over the Korean Peninsula, also took part in a live-fire exercise in the Yellow Sea.
Bomber flights and joint drills are often carried out in response to North Korean provocations, but the last major provocation was the country's sixth nuclear test in early September.
"Through the practice this time, South Korean and U.S. air forces showed off the allies' resolve for strong retaliation against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats," the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff explained in a statement.
The latest exercise was intended to improve allied "extended deterrence"capabilities.