The United States flew a B-1B bomber accompanied by stealth fighter jets and South Korean aircraft over the Korean peninsula during a joint military exercise, according to South Korean military officials cited by Yonhap News Agency.
The bomber, which flew from Guam, participated in the so-called “Vigilant Ace” drills that included mock attacks on strategic targets in North Korea.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Air Force sent a group of military aircraft to the Pilsung Firing Range in Gangwon Province, a base jointly operated by the U.S. and South Korea. Among the aircraft sent by the U.S. were a B-1B bomber, several F-22 Raptor stealth jets, F-35 stealth jets, and F-16 fighters.
The South Korean air force sent several F-15Ks and KF-16s to accompany the U.S. forces during the joint-drill.
The exact number of military aircraft has not been disclosed by military officials but RT reports that there could have been more than one B-1B bomber present during the drill. The U.S. has confirmed that 6 B-1B bombers are stationed in Guam and the bombers typically fly in pairs.
North Korea has condemned the military exercise as a provocation amid heavy tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.
The North’s KCNA state news agency accused the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump of “begging for nuclear war” by moving forward with the joint exercise.
Last week, North Korea announced its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could potentially reach anywhere in the United States.
Coinciding with this military exercise is a rare visit by a UN official to the North. Jeffrey Feltman, the UN’s political affairs chief, traveled to the Asian country to discuss Pyongyang's nuclear program.
A Russian-Chinese proposed plan suggests a “dual suspension” where U.S.-South Korea military exercises would cease in exchange for a halt to North Korea’s nuclear program.
The plan, supported by the North, has been routinely rejected by the United States.
"The Americans need to explain to us all if they want to find a pretext to destroy North Korea. Let them say it directly ... then we can take a decision about how to react," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said last week.