Two US supersonic B-1 Lancer strategic bombers flew over South Korea on Tuesday morning in a show of force and solidarity with its ally amid heightened tension following North Korea’s fifth nuclear test last week.
The two bombers conducted a low-altitude flight over Osan Air Base in South Korea, which is 77 km (48 miles) from the Demilitarised Zone border with the North and about 40 km (25 miles) from the South’s capital Seoul.
The scheduled fly-over was delayed from Monday due to weather conditions in Guam, where the bombers are stationed.
The bombers, capable of carrying the largest payload of both guided and unguided weapons among U.S. Air Force aircraft, were escorted by South Korean and US fighter jets as they conducted the low speed flight over Osan.
The flight was watched by the commander of the 28,500 US troops stationed in South Korea, General Vincent Brooks, and the South’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Lee Sun-jin.
“Today’s demonstration provides just one example of the full range of military capabilities in the deep resources of this strong alliance to provide and strengthen extended deterrence,” Brooks said in a statement.
South Korea said on Monday the North is ready to conduct an additional nuclear test at any time after setting off its most powerful blast to date on Friday.
The test ratcheted up a threat that its rivals and the United Nations have been powerless to contain as it continued to pursue the development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
The nuclear envoys of South Korea and the United States met in Seoul on Tuesday to discuss their response to the North’s nuclear test and have a media conference scheduled for later in the day.