US sends two stealth bombers over South Korea in show of strength
Washington makes rare statement on drills in face of growing threats from North Korea
A US Air Force B-2 Spirit bomber lands at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.
The United States military flew two stealth bombers over South Korea yesterday in a show of strength against increasingly belligerent rhetoric from North Korea, emphasising Washington’s support of Seoul.
The Pentagon released a rare public statement that two B-2 Spirit bombers had made non-stop return trips from an airforce base in Missouri to demonstrate the US’s capacity to “provide extended deterrence to our allies in the Asia-Pacific region” and to “conduct long-range precision strikes quickly and at will”.
Trial bombing raid
This is the first time that the American military has publicly confirmed a B-2 mission over the Korean peninsula, though the US and South Korea conduct annual drills to show of their defensive capabilities.
The planes, which have the capacity to carry nuclear weapons, dropped inert munitions carried 6,500 miles over the Pacific to stage a trial bombing raid on an island range off the west of South Korea.
US secretary of defence Chuck Hagel spoke to his counterpart in Seoul, Kim Kwan-jin, by phone as the bombers flew their practice runs to reaffirm the “unwavering” US support for South Korea.
North Korea responded by making ready its armed forces to fight what it has described as “hostile” war drills by the US and South Korea.
The training drills are a public display of force to illustrate to North Korea that long-distance US bombers can bring South Korea and Japan under Washington’s “nuclear umbrella”.
The Pentagon has been flexing its muscles publicly over recent weeks after North Korea conducted a third nuclear weapons test last month and threatened pre-emptive strikes on South Korea and the US.
Hagel announced earlier this month that it was bolstering its missile defences along the US west coast in response to the threats from Pyongyang.
A US B52 bomber also flew a practice run over South Korea earlier this week.