B-1B, F-22s join ‘rapid response’ Korean exercise in show of force

A U.S. supersonic B-1B bomber flies over Korea, flanked by several other warplanes of the allies on Dec. 6, 2017, in this photo provided by South Korea’s Air Force. / Yonhap

by WorldTribune Staff, December 6, 2017

The United States brought its top guns to the show on Dec. 6 as it dispatched at least one B-1B bomber and several F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets to a major joint exercise with South Korea.

In an unprecedented show of force amid ongoing provocations by North Korea, the U.S. warplanes conducted simulated bombing drills as part of the Vigilant Ace exercise.

Several F-35 stealth jets and F-16 fighters of the U.S., as well as F-15Ks and KF-16s of the South, joined the exercise at the Pilsung Firing Range in Gangwon Province, according to the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Joint Chiefs added that the two sides honed their readiness to deploy a “rapid response force” by improving the interoperability and the capability of carrying out combined operations in peace and wartime.

Analysts say its was unusual for the U.S. to make public the deployment of the B-1B supersonic jets, which are based at the Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.

North Korea condemned the exercises, which were planned before Pyongyang tested a new, more powerful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in a launch on Nov. 29.

Pyongyang said the wargames were pushing the peninsula “to the brink of nuclear war” and threatened to retaliate against the drills, as an article in the state-controlled news agency KCNA reported it would consider “the highest-level hard-line countermeasure in history.”

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