Two U.S. Air Force bombers conducted an exercise over South Korea on Friday in a "demonstration of the ironclad U.S. commitment to our allies" in response to North Korea's launch this week of an intercontinental ballistic missile, according to the Pentagon.
Japanese and South Korean fighter jets joined the U.S. B-1B Lancer bombers in the 10-hour exercise, taking off from the Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. As part of the mission, the forces dropped "inert" — or inactive — bombs at South Korea's Pilsung Range, the military said.
"North Korea's actions are a threat to our allies, partners and homeland," said General Terrence O' Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander, in a statement. "Let me be clear, if called upon we are trained, equipped and ready to unleash the full lethal capability of our allied air forces."
The B-1Bs flew to the Korean Peninsula where they were accompanied by South Korean F-15 fighter jets and U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jets, the Pentagon said.
On Tuesday, North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, reaching a new threshold for the regime of Kim Jong Un.
North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency said its new intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-14, was capable of hitting the "heart of the United States" with "large heavy nuclear warheads."
The morning after the launch, the U.S. conducted a joint military exercise with South Korean forces in which the two allies fired ballistic missiles in waters along the Korean Peninsula's east coast.
Not everyone in the national security community believes the U.S.'s recent displays of military might are effective. Retired Air Force Gen. Chuck Wald told the Washington Examiner that the U.S. would be better off trying to shoot down one of North Korea's test missiles instead of test-firing missiles off the South Korean coast.
During a meeting Thursday at the G-20 summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Trump and the two leaders agreed to increase pressure on North Korea and said they would push for additional sanctions on the rogue regime.