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US Bomber To Joins South Korea Air Drills Amid North Korea Threat

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An #American B-1B strategic bomber will take part in ongoing joint air exercises with South Korea on Saturday, a defense ministry spokesman in Seoul said AFP. This is a show of force following a barrage of missile launches by North Korea. An intercontinental ballistic missile was launched by Pyongyang on Wednesday and Thursday, as was another that landed for the first time since the conclusion of the Korean War in 1953 close to South Korea’s territorial waters.

The United States and South Korea have extended their largest-ever air force drills to Saturday in response to their warnings that North Korea’s string of rockets could result in a nuclear test. An official from the South Korean defense ministry told AFP that the final day of the Vigilant Storm exercises, which were initially planned to take place from Monday to Friday this week, will include a US Air Force B-1B strategic bomber.

The official only added, “B-1B is slated to participate in the afternoon training,” declining to give any other information. The display of force occurred a day after South Korea reportedly mobilized 180 North Korean warplanes in response to South Korea’s scrambling of fighter jets.

In response to the US-South Korea air drills, Pyongyang has increased the number of missile launches. North Korea has traditionally been enraged by such exercises because it perceives them as invasion drills. Vigilant Storm, according to Pyongyang, is “an aggressive and provocative military drill targeting” North Korea, and if it continues, the US and South Korea will “pay the most terrible price in history.”

According to observers, North Korea is especially sensitive about these exercises because its air force is one of the military’s weakest points and lacks modern jets and well-trained pilots. The deployment of US strategic weaponry, such as B-1B bombers and aircraft carrier strike groups, to and near the Korean peninsula at tense times has historically particularly incensed Pyongyang.

The US Air Force refers to the B-1B as “the backbone of America’s long-range bomber force” despite the fact that it no longer carries nuclear weapons.

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