SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The United States will fly a supersonic bomber over its ally South Korea as part of a wide-ranging joint air exercise involving hundreds of warplanes aimed at deterring North Korea from a barrage of ballistic missile tests. To threaten. This week that has increased tensions in the region.

South Korea’s defense ministry said at least one B-1B bomber would take part in the final day of joint US-South Korean air force exercises that concluded on Saturday. South Korean and US military officials did not immediately provide further details.

The “Vigilance Storm” exercise, which involves about 240 warplanes, including the two countries’ advanced F-35 fighter jets, has drawn an angry response from North Korea. The North this week fired dozens of missiles into the sea, including an intercontinental ballistic missile that triggered evacuation warnings in northern Japan, and flew its warplanes within its territory.

North Korea’s foreign ministry late on Friday called the military actions an appropriate response to the alert storm, which it described as a display of US “hysteria of military confrontation”. It said North Korea would respond with the “sternest response” to any attempt by “hostile forces” to violate its sovereignty or security interests.

B-1B flyovers have been a familiar show of force in previous periods of tension with North Korea. The planes last appeared in the region in 2017 during another provocative run of North Korean weapons demonstrations. But the flyovers were halted in recent years as the US and South Korea halted their large-scale drills to support the Trump administration’s diplomatic efforts with North Korea and because of COVID-19.

The allies have resumed their massive training this year as North Korea ramps up its weapons testing to a record pace, and at the UN Security Council over Russia’s war on Ukraine to accelerate weapons development. Taking advantage of deep differences as a window

North Korea closely abhors such displays of US military power. The North continues to describe the B-1B as a “nuclear strategic bomber” even though the aircraft was converted to conventional weapons in the mid-1990s.

Vigilante Storm was initially scheduled to end on Friday, but the allies decided to extend the exercise on Thursday in response to a series of North Korean ballistic launches, including an ICBM that triggered evacuation warnings. Mobilized and stopped trains in northern Japan.

Thursday’s launches came after the North fired more than 20 missiles on Wednesday, its most in a single day. The launches came after senior North Korean military official Park Jong-chun issued a veiled threat of nuclear conflict over joint exercises with the US and South Korea, which the North says are exercises for a possible attack.

South Korea also shot down about 80 military aircraft on Friday after North Korean warplanes tracked about 180 flights over North Korean territory. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korean warplanes were detected inland and in various areas along the country’s east and west coasts, but did not come particularly close to the Korean border. The South Korean military observed about 180 flight paths between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., but it was not immediately clear how many North Korean planes were involved and whether some may have flown more than once.

In a statement attributed to an unidentified spokesman on Friday, North Korea’s foreign ministry said the US and South Korea had created a serious “destabilized environment” in the region with their military exercises. He accused the United States of mobilizing its allies in a campaign to use sanctions and military threats to pressure North Korea to unilaterally disarm.

“Continued provocations will be followed by sustained retaliation,” the statement said.

North Korea has launched dozens of ballistic missiles this year, including several ICBMs and an intermediate-range missile fired over Japan. South Korean officials say there are indications that North Korea could detonate its first nuclear test device since 2017 in the coming weeks. Experts say North Korea is trying to force the US to accept it as a nuclear power and wants to negotiate economic and security concessions from the US. position of strength.

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