During a joint air exercise called “Vigilant Storm” in South Korea on Saturday, November 5, 2022, two U.S. Air Force B-1B bombers, four South Korean Air Force F-35 fighter fighters, and four U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jets fly over the South Korean Peninsula. The United States sent two supersonic bombers speeding over South Korea on Saturday. North Korea added four ballistic missile launches into the sea to its recent onslaught of military displays, underscoring the increasing regional tensions.
As the Joint Chiefs of Staff reported, the four short-range missiles were launched from a South Korean coastal region in the west at around noon, going around 130 kilometers (80 miles) into the country’s western sea.
The North has tested more than 30 missiles this week in a ferocious reaction to a massive joint military drill between the United States and South Korea, including an intercontinental ballistic missile on Thursday that led to evacuation alerts in northern Japan. A sizable number of North Korean warplanes have also flown over its territory.
According to the South Korean military, two B-1B bombers trained alongside four American F-16 fighter jets and four South Korean F-35 fighter jets on the final day of the joint air force exercises known as “Vigilant Storm,” which culminated on Saturday. Since December 2017, the bombers had not previously been deployed to the Korean Peninsula. The rehearsal involved over 240 warplanes, including advanced F-35 fighter fighters from both countries.
Any “hostile forces” attempts to violate North Korea’s sovereignty or security interests will be met with the “toughest counteraction,” the nation’s foreign ministry declared late Friday. This week, North Korea’s military activities were a fitting response to the drill, which it referred to as a display of U.S. power.
According to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, the B-1Bs’ participation in the joint exercises demonstrated that the allies were ready to “sternly respond” to N. Korean provocations and the U.S. determination to defend its ally using all available military tools, including nuclear capability.
B-1B flyovers were a typical show of force when the United States and North Korea were at odds. The last time the aircraft was spotted nearby was in 2017, during another provocative run by North Korea in one of its missile exhibitions. But in recent years, the flyovers have stopped due to the COVID-19 crisis and the suspension of South Korea’s and the U.S.’s extensive military exercises in favor of the former Trump administration’s peace negotiation with North Korea.
The allies resumed their rigorous training after North Korea increased its nuclear testing to a record rate this year, taking advantage of a gap in the U.N. Security Council amid Russia’s war on Ukraine to accelerate weaponry development.
North Korea is enraged by such close-range American military displays. Despite being equipped with conventional weapons since the middle of the 1990s, the B-1B is still referred to as a “nuclear strategic bomber” in the North.
The allies planned to continue Vigilant Storm training through Saturday before four North Korean ballistic tests on Thursday, including an ICBM that prompted evacuation advice and halted trains in northern Japan.
On Wednesday, the North launched a record-high number of missiles—more than 20. North Korea’s top military officer Pak Jong Chon warned of a nuclear exchange with the United States and South Korea in reaction to joint exercises that the North alleges are training for an upcoming invasion.
In response to discovering over 180 flights by North Korean airplanes inside North Korean territory, South Korea also scrambled roughly 80 military aircraft on Friday. The Joint Chiefs of Staff of the South claimed that while North Korean jets were spotted in numerous inland locations and around the country’s eastern and western beaches, they did not notably approach the border between the two Koreas. Between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., the South Korean military observed roughly 180 flight traces, but it wasn’t immediately apparent how many North Korean aircraft were engaged or whether any may have taken off more than once.
The foreign ministry of North Korea claimed on Friday that the military drills conducted by the U.S. and South Korea had created an “unstable atmosphere” in the area. The author of the remark was given anonymity credit. It stated that the United States and its allies were using unilateral military threats and economic sanctions to pressure North Korea into disarming.
The statement read, “The sustained provocation is destined to be followed by sustained counteraction.”
North Korea has launched numerous ballistic missiles this year, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and an intermediate-range missile flying over Japan. The conduct of North Korea’s first nuclear test since 2017 may be imminent, according to South Korean officials. Experts claim that North Korea is using its clout to request economic and security concessions by attempting to convince the United States to acknowledge it as a nuclear state.