The US and the Republic of Korea responded to recent North Korean aggression with a joint show of force on Tuesday. Two US B-1B Lancers from Andersen AFB, Guam, conducted low-level flight over Osan AB, South Korea. The bombers were accompanied by US F-16 Fighting Falcons and Korean F-15K Slam Eagles, according to an Osan press release. Earlier in the same flight, the B-1Bs participated in “fighter interception training” with two F-2 fighters from the Japan Air Self Defense Force near Japan. “The United States has an unshakeable commitment to defend allies in the region and will take necessary steps to do so, including operations like this one today,” US Army Gen. Vincent Brooks, US Forces Korea commander, said at a press conference. Gen. Lee, Sun Jin, Chairman of the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff, added, “As we have warned multiple times, if North Korea conducts military provocations they will be met with a firm response from us that will shake the very foundation of their regime.” On Sept. 9, North Korea claimed it had completed its second successful detonation of a nuclear warhead this year—its fifth overall—a move that closely followed the country’s test launch of a KN-11, medium-range ballistic missile on Aug. 23.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.