B-1B bomber holds attack drill in Korea
SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- A U.S. strategic bomber made a sortie to South Korea on a training mission Wednesday, sending a strong warning message to North Korea, according to South Korea's Air Force.
It said the B-1B conducted an immediate deployment and simulation-based bombing drill in case of any emergency on the peninsula.
It was joined by South Korea's squadrons of F-15K and two KF-16 fighter jets as part of the allies' annual defense drills.
"Through this exercise, the South Korean and U.S. Air Forces demonstrated their strong deterrence against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats," it said in a statement.
The practice is designed to improve interoperability and combined tactical capabilities, as well as the ability to promptly deploy the strategic asset when needed, it added.
An informed defense source said the B-1B flew over the island of Jikdo in the West Sea, where the U.S. Forces Korea's bombing range is located, before heading back to the Guam base.
A B-1B Lancer bomber is on display for a public event at a U.S. military base in Osan, Gyeonggi Province, in this undated file photo. (Yonhap)
The flight came hours after North Korea test-launched a missile from its eastern military base that apparently ended in failure.
The long-range, high-speed bomber is known to carry the largest conventional payload of both guided and unguided weapons in the U.S. Air Force inventory.
The Donald Trump administration has ratcheted up pressure on an increasingly provocative Pyongyang.
The U.S. Navy's nuclear-powered submarine USS Columbus (SSN-762) and aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson also participated in the bilateral training. The U.S. deployed two B-1Bs to Korea last week as well.