IMAGE CREDITS: SOUTH KOREAN DEFENSE MINISTRY VIA GETTY IMAGES.
The long-range aircraft, which originated from Guam’s Andersen Air Force Base, was joined by South Korean and Japanese military jets during the nighttime mission.
According to a statement from the U.S. Pacific Air Forces, the flyover represents “the first time U.S. Pacific Command B-1B Lancers have conducted combined training with JASDF and ROKAF fighters at night.”
“Participating in bilateral training enables the operational units to improve their combined capabilities and tactical skills, while also building bilateral confidence and strong working relationships,” the statement said.
The drills came just one day after it was revealed that suspected North Korean hackers obtained U.S.-South Korean war plans for a potential conflict with Pyongyang last year.
“These plans are aimed at winning a war at an early stage by minimizing damage to South Korea and carrying out pinpoint decapitation operations against top North Korean leaders,” The Chosun Ilbo’s Pak Soo-chan wrote.
The Wall Street Journal released further details on the breach Wednesday, reporting the hackers had gained access to the documents by compromising a Seoul-based antivirus company used by the South Korean government. The hackers were able to exfiltrate the data from the Defense Ministry due to its intranet inadvertently being connected to the internet.
Other documents pilfered by the hackers included information concerning military instillations, power plants and details on Washington and Seoul’s military drills and personnel.
Tensions have steadily increased on the Korean Peninsula amid numerous missile and nuclear tests by Pyongyang and heated rhetoric between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Russia’s TASS news agency reported Wednesday that North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Yong Ho accused President Trump of lighting “the wick of war.”
“With his bellicose and insane statement at the United Nations, Trump, you can say, has lit the wick of a war against us,” Ri said, according to TASS. “We need to settle the final score, only with a hail of fire, not words.”
Trump appeared to hint at support of military action Saturday in a tweet stating “only one thing will work” with North Korea.
“Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid,” Trump tweeted. “[H]asn’t worked, agreements violated before the ink was dry, makings [sic] fools of U.S. negotiators. Sorry, but only one thing will work!”
Defense Secretary James Mattis stressed during his keynote address at the annual Association of the United States Army convention in Washington Monday that the U.S. continues to rely on diplomatic solutions, adding though that the U.S. Army must “be ready” to act if needed.
“Right now it is a diplomatically led, economic sanctions-buttressed effort to try to turn North Korea off this path,” Mattis said. “Now, what does the future hold? Neither you nor I can say, so there’s one thing the U.S. Army can do, and that is we have got to be ready to ensure that we have military options that our president can employ if needed.”
Trump appeared to rebuff the notion of diplomacy in a tweet aimed at Secretary of State Rex Tillerson early Monday.
“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man…” Trump said.
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