U.S. B-1 Lancer Bombers Escorted By F-15 Jets Fly East Of North Korea, North Of The DMZ: Four Reasons Why This Time It Is Interesting.

This is the farthest north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) any U.S. fighter or bomber aircraft have flown off North Korea’s coast in the 21st century.

On Sept. 23, hours after the latest threats from Kim Jong Un who said that Pyongyang will soon test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific, U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers from Guam, along with U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle fighter escorts from Okinawa, Japan, flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea.

This time, the show of force is a bit more interesting than usual, for four reasons:

1) it is the farthest north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) any U.S. fighter or bomber aircraft have flown off North Korea’s coast in the 21st century;

2) unlike all the previous ones, the latest sortie was flown at night, hence it was not a show of force staged to take some cool photographs;

3) no allied aircraft is known to have taken part in the mission at the time of writing, whereas most of the previous B-1 missions near the Korean Peninsula involved also ROKAF (Republic Of Korea Air Force) and/or JASDF (Japan’s Air Self Defense Force) jets;

4) it was a U.S. Air Force job: no U.S. Marine Corps F-35B stealth jet took part in the show of force this time, even though the STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) variant of the Joint Strike Fighter has taken part in all the most recent formations sent over Korea to flex muscles against Pyongyang. The photo here below shows the “package” assembled for Sept. 14’s show of force.

Munitions from a U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) bilateral mission explode at the Pilsung Range, South Korea, Sept 17, 2017. The U.S. and ROKAF aircraft flew across the Korean Peninsula and practiced attack capabilities by releasing live weapons at the training area before returning to their respective home stations. This mission was conducted in direct response to North Korea’s intermediate range ballistic missile launch, which flew directly over northern Japan on September 14 amid rising tension over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile development programs. (U.S. Army photo by SSgt. Steven Schneider)

According to the U.S. Pacific Command, today’s mission is” a demonstration of U.S. resolve and a clear message that the President has many military options to defeat any threat. 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.”

Top image shows a U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer, assigned to the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, receives fuel from a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker Sep. 23, 2017. This mission was flown as part of the continuing demonstration of the ironclad U.S. commitment to the defense of its homeland and in support of its allies and partners. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Richard P. Ebensberger)


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. This was a simulated strike mission. Look for more of these to happen with various aircraft. The Eagles were likely armed with live weapons which they didn’t want in pictures. The previous “Shows of Force” are ‘reassurance’ missions and to practice the skills of long range operations and coordinating all the moving parts. The night mission was using all those skills and practicing tactical skills by simulating a strike on NK. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did a intercept attempt (pushed towards NK airspace to see if and when they got picked up).

  2. Look kid, what looks is NK launch their 160kt hydrogen bomb on Seoul


    Now the worst part, suppose that US retaliates over Pyongyang with a similar bomb with the winds to west or northwest and exploding on surface


    Do you see where it goes? now think is not only one, but several bombs. Time to grow mate, the war is not the solution.

    • First, have you ever even been there? I’ve flown into Osan and Kunsan, worked some ops there. I’ve been involved with RIMPAC and worked with Japanese and South Korean forces aboard a couple of CVNs. I also have an understanding for how any attack would proceed. Now …

      Have you any understanding for the capabilities of THAAD? Do you think the U.S. might launch a nuclear attack if they see Kim preparing to launch one first? You may not be fortunate enough to be an American, but any nuclear attack would affect the entire world. Many millions would die. How many hydrogen bombs atop ICBMs will the acknowledged mass-murderer Kim have in 10 years? 200? 300? A kid like you may wish to wait that long before you consider a preemptive attack, but I hope that the President of the United States does not.

      • So your answer is, any country in the world who dare to build an A-bomb should face the full enforcement of the law by .. the universal police! the Judge Dredd of our times, the one and only ….. AMERICAN GOVERNMENT, who applies laws outside his borders that are forbbiden inside! :D what american arrogance, that should not be the role of the United Nations and the Security Council?

  3. Such actions could spook NK into action, that the US and its allies would regret later. It’s a game China is playing, and the various players have bought into this Realpolitik. The bait is too tempting, ain’t it you Yankees… SK and Japan would pay a hefty price for this misadventure by US; and the latter is untouchable in real terms, while the others are at breathing distance from NK: do you see it! It’s a China vs. US game, and the pawns are getting played here…

  4. Like the US did in Irak? and Lybia? yeah they are saying: thanks AMERICA …. in your dreams

Comments are closed.