The United States and its allies have once again responded to a North Korean missile test, but this time the response included a live-fire exercise.
Two B-1 bombers from a base in Guam, along with four F-35 fighter jets from a base in Japan, participated in a 10-hour, show of force mission over the Korean Peninsula.
The American aircraft were joined by Japanese military aircraft over Japanese waters and four South Korean fighter jets over the peninsula, where they released live weapons at Pilsung Range training area.
The show of force came two days after North Korea fired of an intermediate-range missile over Japan. And it comes a day after the U.S. Navy announced its sailors had successfully shot down a medium-range ballistic missile off the coast of Hawaii in a defense systems test.
North Korea has launched several missiles toward Japan this year, with most falling in the Sea of Japan.
"North Korea's actions are a threat to our allies, partners and homeland, and their destabilizing actions will be met accordingly,” said General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, the commander of U.S. Pacific Air Forces. “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."
The U.S. military frequently responds to North Korean provocations with a show-of-force display of its attack aircraft. Last month, the U.S. and Republic of Korea militaries also fired missiles into South Korean territorial waters in direct response to an intercontinental ballistic missile launch by Pyongyang.
Speaking on a recent trip to the region, the top U.S. general, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford, said the military’s “primary focus” is supporting the administration’s diplomatic and economic campaign to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, while preparing “viable military options” in the event that campaign fails.