China, Russia Stage Drills to Counter S.Korea-US Exercise


American bombers will fly over the Korean Peninsula on Wednesday, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency, a move likely to antagonise North Korea.

The high-altitude, supersonic bombers were joined by U.S. F-22 and F-35 stealth fighter jets to conduct simulated strikes at a military field in Gangwon Province, Korea Economic Daily reported.

The source said the long-range bombers, based in Guam, were to conduct bombing drills with South Korean fighter jets without specifying the number of B-1Bs or the exact schedule of the mission.

It was part of the annual Vigilant ACE air force practice, which started Monday for a five-day run.

As the US and South Korean militaries worked together on the largest-ever version of their annual air-power exercise on the Korean Peninsula, China did something that suggests it would consider backing up North Korea in the event of war.

B-1 flights represent the US's go-to response for North Korean provocations like missile tests, and the bomber flights always draw a strong, sometimes dangerously escalating response from Pyongyang. KCNA said on Tuesday that the exercises in which the bomber took part are "simulating an all-out war".

China has proposed that North Korea suspend missile and nuclear testing in exchange for a halt to US-South Korean military exercises.

The drills coincide with a rare visit to the North by United Nations political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman.

The U.S. Pacific Air Forces would not confirm the report, citing "operational security reasons". In June, North Korea also used a drone to spy on the deployment of the Thaad anti-missile system. In July, the DPRK twice tested ballistic missiles, on August 29 and September 15, carried out two more rocket launches that flew over the territory of Japan, and on September 3 announced the successful testing of the hydrogen charge.

The F-22 is the world's stealthiest aircraft, meaning it's extremely unlikely North Korea could see it coming.

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