F-35B aircraft, joined B-1B Lancer bombers for the first time in a mission with Japan and South Korean in a deliberate show of force against North Korea.
The US Air Force have confirmed that two B-1Bs from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam; four U.S. Marine F-35Bs from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan; two Japan Air Self-Defense Force Koku Jieitai F-2s; and four South Korean air force F-15Ks executed this mission to emphasise the ‘combined ironclad commitment to the defence of allies and the U.S. homeland’.
This mission was conducted in direct response to North Korea’s intermediate-range ballistic missile launch, which flew directly over northern Japan amid rising tension over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile development programmes.
“North Korea’s actions are a threat to our allies, partners and homeland, and their destabilizing actions will be met accordingly,” said Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, commander, U.S. Pacific Air Forces, who just returned from an unscheduled visit to Japan to meet with his counterparts.
“This complex mission clearly demonstrates our solidarity with our Allies and underscores the broadening cooperation to defend against this common regional threat,” O’Shaughnessy added. “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.”
Over the course of the 10-hour mission, the F-35Bs, B-1B bombers and Koku Jieitai fighters flew together over waters near Kyushu, Japan.
The US and South Korean aircraft then flew across the Korean Peninsula and practised attack capabilities by releasing live weapons at the Pilsung Range training area before returning to their respective home stations.