Two US supersonic B-1B bombers flew over South Korea on Saturday, marking the first time the bombers were deployed to the region since 2017 as tensions continue to rise on the Korean peninsula.
The bombers participated in the last day of massive aerial war games the US and South Korea held, known as Vigilant Storm. The exercises were initially set to conclude on Friday but were extended into Saturday over North Korea’s missile tests.
North Korea made clear that it would respond to Vigilant Storm, which involved about 240 US and South Korean aircraft. This year’s iteration of the drills was the largest ever, and Pyongyang reacted by launching missiles and artillery.
After the drills were extended into Saturday, North Korea launched four more missiles. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced the extension of the war games after meeting with his South Korean counterpart on Thursday and said the US would deploy more strategic assets to the region.
On Monday, North Korea’s military said the Vigilant Storm exercises were an “open provocation aimed at intentionally escalating the tension” and “a dangerous war drill of very high aggressive nature.”
The Biden administration has shown no signs its approach to North Korea will change, and the tit-for-tat escalations will likely continue. The US is calling for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula while also issuing nuclear threats against Pyongyang.