The U.S. Air Force conducted an exercise comprising US heavy bomber, the B-52, in one of the first publicized bilateral military exercises since U.S. President Donald Trump’s landmark summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.
The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a US long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber, designed and built by Boeing. The B-52 bomber is capable of carrying up to 70,000 pounds of weapons and has a combat range of around 9000 miles.
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The training mission included two nuclear-capable U.S. B-52 bombers placed on the island of Guam and six ASDF F-15 fighter jets based at the Komatsu Air Base in Ishikawa Prefecture, near the Sea of Japan.
“The exercise was meant to improve mutual operations abilities and improve warfare abilities,” the ASDF said in a statement
It was not clear exactly where the training mission took place, but both sides said it was held in the Japanese airspace. After the exercise, the B-52s conducted the drill with the U.S. Navy in the proximity of Okinawa Prefecture before returning to Guam.
Earlier, joint exercises comprising Ishikawa-based ASDF fighters were conducted in the Sea of Japan last year and were perceived to compel North Korea. Rising strains eased earlier this year as Pyongyang sent a team to compete in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
This led to a spate of much-required meetings on the subject of denuclearization, including two summits between Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, followed by Kim-Trump meeting in Singapore.
In May, a drill involving U.S. B-52 bombers and South Korean fighter jets was abandoned after South Korea expressed concerns that it could escalate tensions before the Singapore summit.