Defense officials have reported a joint drill between the South Korean Air Force and U.S. B-1B Lancers. These Lancers are long range, heavy bombers developed in the 70’s to be capable of delivering up to 24 nuclear bombs.
On the 8th of July, two of them met South Korean F-15 and F-16 fighter jets for a strike precision drill meant by the defense department to “sternly respond to the series of ballistic missiles launched in North Korea.” The most recent of these took place on July 4th when North Korea successfully test fired a two-stage intercontinental ballistic missile despite international sanctions. This ICBM is believed to be able to travel 3,500 miles, putting it in the range of American territory in Alaska. This time the target seemed to be Japan as the missile landed just inside Japan’s territorial boundary in the Sea of Japan. North Korean television claimed the missile hit its target perfectly.
The Lancers took part in a live-fire exercise designed to demonstrate the ability to attack key North Korean facilities. They also buzzed by the DMZ, coming short of crossing any demarcation lines. “South Korea and U.S. Air Forces will immediately respond to enemy provocation in any form anytime and anywhere, ” reporters at NBC were told by Lieutenant- General Won In Chu. This cooperative show of force reinforces the message sent by South Korea’s test launch of a Hyunmoo-2A ballistic missile on the 5th.
The bombers returned afterward to Anderson Air Base in Guam. They were accompanied by Japanese Air Defense fighters. The U.S. Missile Defense Agency has also announced testing of its anti-missile system in Alaska. According to Missile Command, this system can detect, track, and engage with enemy aircraft. A date for this testing has not yet been announced.