A B-1 Lancer performing a mock attack on a range in South Korea amid raising tensions with North Korea caused the China’s Air Defense to radio a warning message as the bomber flew close to the Chinese airspace.
During part of the sortie the American heavy bomber was escorted by two South Korea’s F-15K and two KF-16 fighter jets as shown in the photo posted above.
Noteworthy, along with sending a deterrence message to North Korea amid raising tensions caused by the latest ballistic missile launches, the B-1 bomber caused some concern to the Chinese military that tracked the American as it flew over the East China Sea in bound to the Korean peninsula: Fox News reported that the “Bone” bomber (as the B-1 is dubbed by its aircrews) was issued a radio warning on the Guard Channel (the international U/VHF emergency frequency) because it was flying inside Chinese airspace according to the Chinese.
However, U.S. officials who spoke to Fox News said that the bomber was flying in international airspace 70 miles southwest of the South Korean island of Jeju.
Bizarre Video Continues North Korean Saber Rattling, Appears Comical.
In the strange style of propaganda videos released by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a new clip posted to YouTube ahead of the latest North Korea missile launch test that apparently ended in failure, depicts a missile attack by the North Korean military on the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70). It also shows the destruction of a U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber. Finally the video seems to suggest mass destruction of U.S installations in South Korea and the Pacific.
Unusual and incongruent messages have been common from North Korea during the past several years with the threatening rhetoric escalating toward the United States since the U.S. Presidential election. This weird video is one more example of the saber rattling from the state-run media.
Translations from North Korean media contain excerpts that read, “We will strike with treasured sword of justice, North Korea ready for war with Trump!”
Along with this war of words North Korea has escalated testing of offensive weapons.
In late January U.S. spy satellites detected new activities at the Chamjin strategic missile manufacturing facility southwest of the capitol Pyongyang. On Mar. 6, North Korea fired four intermediate-range ballistic missiles which fell into waters off Japan.
The aircraft Lightning II will carry out “ground attack” tasks during the two-month drills.
“The addition of the F-35B is meant to deliver a strong message to the North that they could be used against the rogue state in case of a conflict breaking out on the Korean Peninsula,” an official said to the South Korean media outlets.
Earlier this week North Korea fired off four ballistic missiles into the seas near Japan in the latest of a long series of nuclear threats to the US, Japan and South Korea.
Although the attendance of the 5th generation stealth aircraft in the exercise can be seen as a message in response to Kim Jong Un’s growing missile threats it was first speculated as the first U.S. Marine Corps F-35B squadron was deployed to its new homebase in Japan.
Indeed, on Jan. 9, 2017, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121), an F-35B squadron with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, departed MCAS (Marine Corps Air Station) Yuma, Arizona, relocated to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan.
Formerly a 3rd MAW F/A-18 Hornet squadron, the VMFA-121 “Green Knights” has achieved IOC (Initial Operational Capability) with the JSF on Jul. 31, 2015.
In October 2016, a contingent of 12 F-35Bs took part in Developmental Test III aboard USS America followed by the Lightning Carrier “Proof of Concept” demonstration on the carrier on Nov. 19, 2016.
During the POC, the aircraft proved it can operate at-sea, employing a wide array of weapons loadouts with the newest software variant and some of the most experienced F-35B pilots said that “the platform is performing exceptionally.”
Although the F-35B is the most modern combat plane in the region and can theoretically be used as part of a larger package to hit very well defended North Korean targets in case of war, the presence of a handful stealth multirole aircraft (just 10 aircraft deployed to Japan, 6 more are reportedly joining the USMC squadron at Iwakuni by August this year), is mostly symbolic and must be considered as part of a wider military force, an armada that, if needed, would also include B-1B Lancers deployed to Guam to support the U.S. Pacific Command’s (USPACOM) Continuous Bomber Presence mission, U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress and B-2 Spirit stealth bombers (that have already conducted extended deterrence missions over the Korean Peninsula in the past years); along with other USAF from land bases and U.S. Navy aircraft from aircraft carriers, including the F-16 in Wild Weasel role and the EA-18G Growlers Electronic Attack assets, to name but few.
Among the aircraft that took part in the air show, there was also a formation of four Hughes 500E helicopters: exposed in 2013 during the traditional flying parade over Pyongyang, the North Korean “Little Birs” have long been surrounded by mystery. There were no images that could prove their presence in DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) in spite the news that they had been illegally supplied to the regime had been unveiled in the ’80s.
Even the state airline Air Koryo took part in the air show with its Tu-134, Tu-154 and Il-62 aircraft.
Pyongyang’s first air show took place amid growing tensions with the U.S. over North Korea’s continued development of missiles and nuclear weapons.
Whilst international sanctions restrict the regime’s international trade, air shows like the one held this year are probably one of the ways to attract some tourists in a country almost inaccessible to foreigners (especially those keen on ultra-rare military hardware!) until a few days ago..
History was made when all the Air Force Global Strike Command’s strategic power projection bombers simultaneously launched from Guam for their first integrated bomber operation in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
On Aug. 17, the U.S. Air Force bomber trio (B-52 Stratofortress, B-1B Lancer and B-2 Spirit) conducted the first coordinated operation in the U.S Pacific Command AOR (Area Of Operations). The three aircraft launched in sequence from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, performed a flyover and then dispersed to conduct simultaneous operations in the South China Sea and Northeast Asia.
The B-52 is part of the latest Stratofortress CBP (Continuous Bomber Presence) detachment to Guam: the aircraft, belonging to the 69th Bomb Squadron from Minot AFB, ND, are about to return stateside after a 6-month deployment. They will be replaced by the “several” B-1B Lancers that have deployed to Andersen on Aug. 6 to undertake the CBP mission in the Pacific.
The B-2 is one of the three stealth bombers with the 509th Bomb Wing that have arrived in Guam on Aug. 9, to conduct extended deterrence operations in the Indo-Asia-Pacific theater, where China is continuing its colonization of the disputed islands in the East and South China Seas.
Missions like the one carried out on Aug. 17 are regularly conducted by the U.S. Air Force, even if these rarely involve all three different types of bombers: for instance, in 2014, the USAF launched a long-range mission with two B-52 Stratofortresses from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., and two B-2 Spirit stealth bombers from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo.
The strategic bombers flew a non-stop for more than 20 hours and covered about 8,000 miles from their home stations to drop ordnance against target located inside Hawaii’s Pohakuloa military weapon range: a coordinated range operation which included low approach training that enabled the air force to put their strategic force’s capability to plan, coordinate and execute such a complex mission with “the right mix” of attack platforms.
The bomber trio mission “demonstrated the U.S. commitment to supporting global security and our ability to launch a credible strategic defense force,” said Brig. Gen. Douglas Cox, the 36th Wing commander in an official statement.
“By doing this, we showed the world we can expertly integrate three different platforms with unique capabilities, meeting (Andersen AFB’s) mission by providing the president of the United States sovereign options to decisively employ airpower across the entire spectrum of engagement, thus achieving our wing’s motto, we are ‘prepared to prevail,’” Cox said.
In simple words, whilst the Air Force Global Strike Command emphasized that the routine deployments to Andersen AFB provide opportunities to train, share experiences and strengthen regional alliances, the truth is that the U.S. Air Force exploited the presence of the tri-bomber force in Guam to get some cool shots (like those in this post) and flex the muscles in the Pacific.