Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers from Guam, along with Air Force F-15C Eagle fighter escorts from Okinawa, Japan, flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea Sept. 23, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said in a statement announcing the mission.
This is the farthest north of the Demilitarized Zone any U.S. fighter or bomber aircraft have flown off North Korea’s coast in the 21st century, White said.
An Air Force B-1B Lancer assigned to the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, prepares to take off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Sept. 23, 2017. The mission was flown as part of the continuing demonstration of the U.S. commitment to the defense of its homeland and in support of its partners and allies, Defense Department and U.S. Pacific Command officials said. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Smoot
The mission underscores the seriousness with which the United States takes North Korea’s “reckless behavior,” she added.
“This mission is a demonstration of U.S. resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any threat,” she said. “North Korea’s weapons program is a grave threat to the Asia-Pacific region and the entire international community. We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the U.S. homeland and our allies.”
On Sept. 17, U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps aircraft joined Japanese and South Korean military aircraft in a sequenced bilateral show of force over the Korean Peninsula in response to North Korea’s Sept. 14 launch of an intermediate range ballistic missile over Japan.