Join the F-35 Stealth Fighter, US B-1B Bomber Prepares to Show Force on North Korea

Join the F-35 Stealth Fighter, US B-1B Bomber Prepares to Show Force on North Korea
US B-1B Bomber and F-35 Prepares to Show Force on North Korea

Seoul - A United States B-1B strategic bomber will join hundreds of military aircraft including the F-35 stealth fighter jet in a joint US-South Korean (South Korean) exercise. The B-1B bombers, which were formerly set up to carry nuclear bombs, will show off their strength after North Korea test-fired about 30 missiles on Wednesday and Thursday.

Washington and Seoul have warned that Pyongyang's series of missile launches could culminate in North Korea's nuclear weapons test, and extended the largest US-South Korean Air Force exercise in response. A South Korean Defense Ministry official told AFP Saturday that the US Air Force B-1B strategic bombers would participate on the final day of the joint exercise, dubbed "Vigilant Storm".

The joint exercise, which practices intensive air strikes, was originally scheduled to run from Monday to Friday this week, but was extended after North Korea carried out missile maneuvers. "The B-1Bs are scheduled to participate in the afternoon training," said the unnamed official, without providing further details. Previously, South Korea deployed multiple fighter jets in response to what it said was the mobilization of 180 North Korean warplanes.

Pyongyang has stepped up its missile launches in protest at the joint US-South Korean Air Force exercises. Such drills have long angered North Korea, which sees it as a rehearsal for invasion. Pyongyang described Vigilant Storm as an aggressive and provocative military exercise targeting North Korea, and said the United States and South Korea would pay the most dire price in history if they continued.

Experts say North Korea is very sensitive about the joint exercises, because its Air Force is one of the weakest links in its military, lacking high-tech jets and well-trained pilots. Pyongyang has been furious in the past with the deployment of US strategic weapons such as the B-1B and carrier strike groups, which have been deployed to and near the Korean Peninsula at times of high tension.

While the B-1B no longer carries nuclear weapons, it is described by the US Air Force as the backbone of America's long-range bomber force that can strike anywhere in the world. The United States on Friday slammed China and Russia at the UN Security Council for "activating" North Korea.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield brushed off criticism of the joint Washington-Seoul drills, dismissing the criticism as North Korean propaganda and saying the drills pose no threat to other countries.

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