Japan, U.S., S. Korea Conduct 1st Joint Air Drill

The Yomiuri Shimbun
U.S. B-52H strategic bomber unveiled at the Korea Air Force Base in Cheongju, South Korea, Thursday.

SEOUL (Jiji Press) — Japan, the United States and South Korea conducted a joint aerial drill over waters south of the Korean Peninsula on Sunday.

It was the first joint aerial drill among the three countries, according to the South Korean military. The latest exercise was apparently intended to keep a check on North Korea, which continues nuclear and missile development.

A B-52 nuclear-capable strategic bomber and F-16 fighter jets from the U.S. military, as well as fighters from the South Korean air force and Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force took part in the drill.

The B-52 was escorted by other participating aircraft in the drill, and they conducted formation flights, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.

At their meeting in August, the leaders of Japan, the United States and South Korea agreed to strengthen their security cooperation, including carrying out joint exercises regularly.

Sunday’s joint exercise was designed to implement the agreement reached at the trilateral summit and boost the nations’ capabilities to respond to advancing threats from North Korea, the South Korean air force said, adding that South Korea is ready to enhance three-way cooperation as well based on the robust South Korea-U.S. alliance.

Japan, the United States and South Korea have so far conducted joint maritime exercises.

Joint aerial drills have been carried out between Japan and the United States and between South Korea and the United States, but not among the three countries.

Last Tuesday, the U.S. B-52 landed at an air base in Cheongju in central South Korea. It was very rare for a U.S. B-52 to land in South Korea.

North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency has warned in a commentary that strategic assets of the United States, including the B-52, will be North Korea’s “first targets of destruction.”