US, South Korea Conduct Joint Bombing Drill Amid North Korea Tensions

On Wednesday, the United States flew a B-1B bomber over the Korean Peninsula to participate in its first precision-guided bombing drill with South Korea since 2017. The South Korean Defense Ministry confirmed that the US bomber conducted joint aerial exercises with South Korean fighter jets. During the training, the B-1B bomber released Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) while being accompanied by South Korean aircraft. JDAMs are guidance systems that transform unguided conventional bombs into more accurate GPS-guided weapons and are commonly used by US fighter jets, bombers, and drones. The United States has been supplying JDAMs to Ukraine to aid in its defense against Russia’s invasion. The drill is widely regarded as a demonstration of military strength against North Korea following its recent launch of trash-filled balloons into South Korean territory. North Korea holds a heightened sensitivity to exercises involving bunker-buster bombs, viewing them as a threat to its leadership. B-1B bombers are capable of carrying substantial conventional weapon payloads. North Korea has previously condemned the deployment of the bomber as evidence of US hostility, responding with missile tests. Within the past week, North Korea has sent numerous large balloons carrying various items, including manure, cigarette butts, and reportedly soiled diapers, across the border into South Korea. South Korea has vowed severe retaliatory actions in response and has suspended a fragile military agreement intended to de-escalate tensions between the two nations.

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