The Pentagon deployed a formation of 14 bombers and fighters over the Korean Peninsula on Sunday that also included South Korean and Japanese aircraft, the latest show of force in response to North Korea's missile launches and nuclear tests.
The warplanes were dispatched after North Korea launched a ballistic missile over northern Japan on Thursday, Sept. 14, triggering a widespread emergency alert for those who call the region home. Two Air Force B-1B bombers from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam and four Marine Corps F-35B fighters from Iwakuni, Japan, combined with four South Korean F-15K fighters and four F-2 Japanese fighters, U.S. defense officials said.
The aircraft carried out a simulated attack on the Pilsung training range in South Korea, a few dozen miles from the demilitarized zone separating the North and South, while using live bombs. The U.S. and Japanese jets also flew in formation over waters near Kyushu, Japan, a southern portion of the country that is the closest major island to the Korean Peninsula.
The show of force came as President Donald Trump prepared to deliver remarks for the first time this week at the United Nations General Assembly. The escalating standoff between the United States and its allies and North Korea prompted U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley to say that if the United States exhausts its diplomatic options to stop North Korea, military force remains an option.
"If North Korea keeps on with this reckless behavior, if the United States has to defend itself or defend its allies in any way, North Korea will be destroyed," Haley told CNN in an interview that aired Sunday. "And we all know that, and none of us want that."
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday that North Korea continues to deepen its diplomatic and economic isolation with its provocative actions.
"More and more nations are realizing there's simply no collaboration with the international community," he said. "There's a dismissal of international concern, unified U.N. Security Council concerns."
The U.S. military released 24 photos of the latest show of force, an apparent message to North Korea and the international community.