In a show of force, a US B-52 bomber capable of delivering nuclear weapons along with its F-16 and South Korean F-15 fighters conducted a low-level flight close to North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s recent nuclear test that heightened the tension in the region.
“This was a demonstration of the ironclad US commitment to our allies in South Korea, in Japan, and to the defense of the American homeland,” said Admiral Harry B Harris, commander of the US Pacific Command.
“North Korea’s nuclear test is a blatant violation of its international obligations. US joint military forces in the Indo-Asia-Pacific will continue to work with all of our regional allies and partners to maintain stability and security,” he said after the flyover.
The bilateral flight mission over Osan Air Base, some 100-km from the North Korean border, demonstrates the strength of the alliance between the United States and South Korea and the resolve of both nations to maintain stability and security on the Korean Peninsula, PACOM said in a statement.
Headquartered in Hawaii, US Pacific Command is responsible for all US Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps forces over half the earth’s surface, stretching from the waters off the West coast of North America to the western border of India, and from Antarctica to the North Pole.
The B-52, capable of carrying nuclear weapons and part of the US Pacific Command’s continuous bomber presence in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, was flanked by a US F-16 and a South Korean F-15. Upon completion of the flight, it returned to Guam.
“The flight demonstrates the strength and capabilities of the Alliance,” said Gen Curtis M Scaparrotti, United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, US Forces Korea commander.
“The close military cooperation between the US and the Republic of Korea ensures we are ready to respond at any time to those who would threaten stability and security,” he said.
In a statement to reporters gathered at Osan Air Base prior to the flight, United Nations Command, US Forces Korea deputy commander and US Seventh Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy highlighted the capabilities and readiness of the South Korea-US Alliance.
“B-52 missions reinforce the US commitment to the security of our allies and partners, and demonstrate one of the many alliance capabilities available for the defense of the Republic of Korea,” Lt Gen O’Shaughnessy said.
There was no immediate reaction from North Korea to the B-52 fly-over, which also took place after Pyongyang’s third nuclear test in 2013.
Pyongyang last week carried out its fourth nuclear test, angering the international community and raising tensions in the region.