A U.S. Air Force B-52 on Sunday carried out joint aerial drills with aircraft from South Korea and Japan. The long-range strategic bomber landed at a South Korean airbase last week after a flyover at the country’s largest defense exhibition.
The drills are the latest show of defense cooperation meant to deter the growing missile and nuclear threats from North Korea.
The trilateral exercise took place south of the Korean Peninsula, where Seoul and Tokyo’s air defense identification zones overlap, the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) announced.
“This marks the first time for the air powers of South Korea, the United States, and Japan to carry out an aerial exercise,” the RoKAF said in a statement.
In August, Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo agreed to hold more defense drills to counter North Korea.
U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel praised the exercise on Monday and described it as signaling a new era in trilateral cooperation.
“From the Camp David Principles to today’s skies, the inaugural trilateral aerial exercise between the U.S., Japan, and the ROK is a testament to our unwavering resolve. Fortifying our future and shared security. This collaboration marks a new era of defense partnership and credible deterrence,” Emanuel wrote on X.
North Korea Condemns Presence of B-52s
Before the weekend exercise, North Korea criticized the arrival of B-52s to the region. Pyongyang has threatened that U.S. military assets deployed on the Korean Peninsula would be the “first targets of destruction.”
“The U.S. would be well aware that the Korean Peninsula is in a state of war by law and its strategic assets deploying in the puppet region are the first targets of destruction,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in an English-language statement.
“The U.S. had better understand at an early date that the more frequently the misjudgment is repeated, the more desperately the critical moment of the American continent will be approached,” KCNA added.
In April, Washington pledged to enhance the “regular visibility” of its strategic assets in the region. The B-52 landed for the first time at a South Korean air base earlier this month.
B-52s Back in Guam
In addition to joint exercises with regional allies, an undisclosed number of B-52 Stratofortress bombers assigned to the 2nd Bomb Wing from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, landed at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, as part of the latest Bomber Task Force deployment.
Such missions are meant to show the credibility of U.S. forces in addressing a global security environment that is more diverse and uncertain than at any other time in recent history.
Throughout this deployment to the Indo-Pacific region, B-52s will train, carrying out operations and exercises while integrating alongside allies and partners throughout the region.
According to the U.S. Air Force, such BTF missions prepare strategic bombers to operate with greater operational resilience from various overseas and continental U.S. locations, supporting the strategic objective of building enduring advantages and integrated deterrence.
The Pentagon has continued to rotate different bombers to the region in order to establish “strategic predictability” and “operational unpredictability.”
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.
From the Vault