South Korean and Japanese jets joined exercises with two supersonic US B-1B bombers above and near the Korean peninsula on Thursday, two days after North Korea sharply raised tension by firing a missile over Japan, Reuters reports.
The drills, involving four US stealth F-35B jets as well as South Korean and Japanese fighter jets, came at the end of annual US-South Korea military exercises focused mainly on computer simulations.
”North Korea’s actions are a threat to our allies, partners and homeland, and their destabilizing actions will be met accordingly,” said General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces Commander, who made an unscheduled visit to Japan.
“This complex mission clearly demonstrates our solidarity with our allies and underscores the broadening cooperation to defend against this common regional threat.”
North Korea has been working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States and has recently threatened to land missiles near the US Pacific territory of Guam.
On Monday, North Korea, which sees the exercises as preparations for invasion, raised the stakes in its stand-off with the United States and its allies by firing an intermediate-range missile over Japan.
On Thursday, its official news agency, KCNA, denounced the military drills in traditionally robust fashion, calling them “the rash act of those taken aback” by the missile test, which it described as “the first military operation in the Pacific”.
President Donald Trump, who has warned that the US military is “locked and loaded” in case of North Korean provocation, reacted angrily to the latest missile test, declaring on Twitter that “talking is not the answer” to resolving the crisis over North Korea’s weapons programs.
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