U.S. and South Korea stage combined air drill a day after North Korea missile launch

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America and South Korea held a mixed air drill together with a strategic bomber, South Korea’s navy stated Sunday, a day after North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile into waters off Japan.

South Korean stealth fighters and jets flew along with American F-16 fighters to escort a B-1B bomber, South Korea’s Joint Chief of Employees stated in a press release Sunday. 

“The coaching aimed toward demonstrating the South Korea-U.S. mixed protection capabilities and posture that includes the alliances’ overwhelming forces via the well timed and fast deployment of the US prolonged deterrence property to the Korean Peninsula,” the assertion added.

American Air Pressure B-1B bombers, alongside U.S. and South Korean fighter jets throughout a joint air drill in South Korea. HANDOUT / AFP – Getty Pictures

Japan additionally flew F-15s over the Sea of Japan with the U.S. Armed Forces’ B-1 bombers and F-16s in tactical workouts, Japan’s Protection Ministry stated in a press release, in response to Reuters.

The workouts, which had been preplanned, got here a day after North Korea fired a long-range ballistic missile from its capital Pyongyang into waters off Japan.

Calling it “an outrageous act,” Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated Saturday that his nation had “launched a really staunch protest” after the missile landed round 125 miles west of Oshima Island in his nation’s unique financial zone.

Confirming the launch on Sunday, North Korea’s state information company KCNA reported that it had been straight ordered by the nation’s chief Kim Jong Un.

KCNA later printed a press release from Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong. It quoted her as saying that the missile wouldn’t be aimed toward South Korea as “we nonetheless don’t have any intention to face head to head with them.”

She added that the U.S. ought to “cease all of the actions posing threats to the safety of our state,” and warned of a “very highly effective and overwhelming counteraction towards its each transfer hostile to us,” in response to KCNA. 

North Korea is coming off a document yr in weapons demonstrations with greater than 70 ballistic missiles fired, together with ICBMs with potential vary to succeed in the U.S. mainland in 2022. 

Saturday’s launch was solely Pyongyang’s second in 2023 but it surely got here after an enormous navy parade in Pyongyang final week, Kim demonstrated over a dozen ICBMs.

Yasukazu Hamada, Japan’s protection minister, informed reporters that primarily based on calculations it may have a variety of just about 8,700 miles, “wherein case, your complete United States could be inside its vary.”

Talking after the launch on Saturday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that the U.S. was “ready to have interaction with North Korea with none preconditions” and that “our dedication to the safety of our shut allies and companions, South Korea and Japan, is ironclad.” 

North Korea has insisted its testing actions are meant as a warning amid elevated U.S. presence within the area. However some consultants fear that Pyongyang additionally makes use of the drills as an opportunity to check new weapons, strengthen its nuclear functionality, and improve its leverage in future dealings with Washington and Seoul.

Stella Kim reported from Los Angeles and Leila Sackur from London.

Related Press contributed.

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