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South Korea, U.S., Japan conduct joint aerial exercise with B-52 bombers

South Korea, the United States and Japan conducted a joint aerial exercise involving nuclear-capable B-52 bombers near the Korean Peninsula on Tuesday, the Defense Ministry said, in an apparent show of force against North Korea following its latest ballistic missile launch.

The aerial exercise involving nuclear-capable B-52H bombers, as well as fighter jets from the three nations, took place over waters southeast of Jeju Island, just hours after the North fired an intermediate-range missile into the East Sea.

“The exercise was held to deter North Korea’s evolving nuclear and missile threats and enhance [the countries’] response capabilities,” the ministry said in a release.

The ministry said the joint aerial drill is the first trilateral exercise held among the countries this year, and vowed to expand joint drills to deter North Korean threats.

Military officials suspect the North may have test-fired an intermediate-range missile equipped with a hypersonic warhead to test the performance of its delivery system following an engine test last month.

On March 20, Pyongyang said it successfully conducted a ground jet test of a solid-fuel engine for a new type of intermediate hypersonic missile, which is considered harder to detect and shoot down.

It marks Pyongyang’s third ballistic missile launch this year.

Source: Korea JoongAng Daily