Two US strategic bombers carry out operation over East Sea

Posted on : 2019-10-28 17:55 KST Modified on : 2019-10-28 17:55 KST
Reappearance of B-52s could be warning message to Pyongyang

Two US Air Force B-52 strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons recently conducted a mission over the East Sea, it has been learned.

An image posted on Aircraft Spots’ Twitter account
An image posted on Aircraft Spots’ Twitter account

The private aircraft tracking site Aircraft Spots announced on Oct. 27 that two US military B-52H Stratofortress aircraft had taken off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam and conducted a mission over the East Sea. The B-52s were assisted in their operations by three KC-135R aerial refueling aircraft that had taken off from Andersen and Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. Aircraft Spots shared a chart of the B-52s’ course, concluding that they appeared to have also conducted a mission over the South China Sea.

With a maximum cruising range of 16,000km, the B-52 is a strategic weapon alongside the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and the strategic nuclear submarine in the US’ “nuclear triad.” Not seen near the Korean Peninsula amid recent progress in inter-Korean and North Korea-US dialogue, the B-52’s reappearance is being interpreted by some as a “warning” message to Pyongyang. North Korea recently launched the Pukguk-song-3, a new model of submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). Others are speculating the mission may have been intended to check activity by China and Russia, which have broadened the radius of their joint exercises into the East Sea. In July, Russia and China conducted their first joint patrol aircraft exercises in the Asia-Pacific region, during which a Russian military aircraft intruded on the skies over Dokdo.

By Park Min-hee, staff reporter

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