The U.S. military has flown two strategic bombers over the Korean Peninsula amid heightened tensions with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.
Two B-1B Lancers took off from Andersen Air Force Base on the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam on Tuesday to conduct a nighttime training mission with military allies Japan and South Korea near the Sea of Japan, according to the U.S. military.
Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs said it was the first time the B-1B Lancers were used for training at night with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Republic of Korea Air Force.
“Flying and training at night with our allies in a safe, effective manner is an important capability shared between the U.S. Japan and the Republic or Korea and hones the tactical prowess of each nations’ aviator,” said Maj. Patrick Applegate, of the U.S. Air Force’s 613th Air Operation Center.
The mission was a display of alliance between the three nations and their resolve to enhance security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The presence of the bomber crafts is part of a U.S. Pacific Command mission to ensure a quick and efficient response to various types of threats in the area, the U.S, military stated.
President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have traded heated rhetoric for weeks as tensions remain high amid North Korea’s insistence it won’t back down over its nuclear weapons program.
Men and women participate in a mass dance event marking the 20th anniversary of the election of former leader Kim Jong Il as general secretary of the Workers’ Party, which is the founding and ruling party of North Korea, at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang,Oct. 8, 2017. Jon Chol Jin, AP
The South Korean and Russian governments warned that North Korea could mark Tuesday — the anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers’ Party — by testing a long-range missile capable of striking the U.S., but that did not occur.
On Tuesday, South Korean lawmaker Rhee Cheol-hee said North Korean hackers had reportedly stolen documents from South Korea’s Defense Ministry’s intranet including a plan to assassinate Kim and wartime contingency plans by the U.S. and Seoul, according to media reports.
South Korea’s defense ministry refused to comment and North Korea denied the allegation, the BBC reported.
Trump met with members of his national security team to be briefed by Defense Secretary James Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Tuesday morning.
“The briefing and discussion focused on a range of options to respond to any form of North Korean aggression or, if necessary, to prevent North Korea from threatening the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons,” the White House said in a statement.