The United States and its allies in the region executed a wide-ranging show of military force on Wednesday in retaliation to North Korea’s most recent missile test, which flew over Japan and panicked many residents before landing in the sea.
The Pentagon deployed two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam – which was recently the subject of a nuclear threat by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un – as well as four U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II fighters, described in a statement by U.S. Pacific Command as its “newest and most advanced fighter.”
“This mission was conducted in direct response to North Korea’s intermediate-range ballistic missile launch, which flew directly over northern Japan on August 28 amid rising tension over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile development programs,” the statement continued.
U.S. Forces were joined by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, which deployed two Koku Jieitai F-15Js, and South Korea’s Republic of Korea Air Force, which deployed four F-15Ks. In a mission that spanned 10 hours, Japanese and U.S. bombers flew together near Japan’s waters before the U.S. aircraft joined South Korean fighters for target practice, flying across the Korean Province.
“North Korea’s actions are a threat to our allies, partners and homeland, and their destabilizing actions will be met accordingly,” U.S. Pacific Air Forces Cmdr. Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy said. “This complex mission clearly demonstrates our solidarity with our allies and underscores the broadening cooperation to defend against this common regional threat. Our forward-deployed force will be the first to the fight, ready to deliver a lethal response at a moment’s notice if our nation calls.”
On Monday, Pyongyang sparked international condemnation by launching a missile over Japan in a move that was thought to be a backlash against a joint U.S.-South Korean missile drill that was underway at the time.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe characterized the launch as a “unprecedented, serious and grave threat” to his country and vowed to petition the United Nations to respond in kind to North Korea’s bellicose actions.