The U.S. Air Force has released photos showing American B-1B Lancer bombers escorted by F-16 fighter jets in a show of force against North Korea.
The flight on Tuesday over Osan Air Base in South Korea involved a pair of B-1s assigned to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam and “highlighted the close cooperation between American and ROK military forces that keeps them ready to respond at any time to threats to stability and security,” according to information released by the Defense Department.
The move was a response to North Korea’s recent nuclear test — its fifth and, with a force of 10 kilotons, strongest to date. The regime of Kim Jung-Un said it could now mount a nuclear warhead on a missile, a claim that wasn’t independently verified but nevertheless raised concerns about North’s progress in nuclear weapons development.
The South doesn’t possess nuclear weapons and relies on the U.S. as a nuclear deterrent, according to Agence France Presse. While B-1 bombers were developed to carry nuclear bombs such as the B-61, they no longer do so after a change of mission and modifications in the 1990s and now only carry conventional ordnance, an Air Force spokeswoman said.
The armament includes 84 500-pound Mk-82 or 24 2,000-pound Mk-84 general purpose bombs; up to 84 500-pound Mk-62 or eight 2,000-pound Mk-65 Quick Strike naval mines; 30 cluster munitions (CBU-87, -89, -97) or 30 Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispensers (CBU-103, -104, -105); up to 24 2,000-pound GBU-31 or 15 500-pound GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions; up to 24 AGM-158A Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles; GBU-54 Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition, according to the Military.com equipment guide.
Here are a few more photos of the flyover: