US Air Force B1-B and Marine Corps aircraft conduct a mission with the South Korean air force F-15Cs over the Korean Peninsula, Sept 18, 2017

US B-1B Bombers Send Message to North Korea

U.S. Air Force Flies Farthest North of Demilitarized Zone this Century

U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers from Guam, along with Air Force F-15C Eagle fighter escorts from Okinawa, Japan, flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea today, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said in a statement announcing the mission, September 23. This is the farthest north of the Demilitarized Zone any U.S. fighter or bomber aircraft have flown off North Korea’s coast in the 21st century, White said.

US Air Force B1-B Lancer Bomber

US Air Force B1-B Lancer Bomber preparing for mission to fly farthest north of the Demilitarized Zone this century to take “clear message” to North Korea

With a price tage of $317m per plane, the B1-B holds almost 50 world records for speed, payload, range, and time of climb in its class. The USAF describes the B-1B as a highly versatile, multi-mission weapon system. The B-1B’s synthetic aperture radar is capable of tracking, targeting and engaging moving vehicles as well as self-targeting and terrain-following modes. In addition, an extremely accurate Global Positioning System-aided Inertial Navigation System enables aircrews to navigate without the aid of ground-based navigation aids as well as engage targets with a high level of precision. The addition of a fully integrated data link (FIDL) with Link-16 capability provides improved battlefield situation awareness and secure beyond line of sight reach back connectivity. In a time sensitive targeting environment, the aircrew can use targeting data received from the Combined Air Operations Center or other command and control assets to strike emerging targets rapidly and efficiently.

The mission underscores the seriousness with which the United States takes North Korea’s “reckless behavior,” she added.

U.S. Air Force Demonstrates Resolve Against North Korean Threat

“This mission is a demonstration of U.S. resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any threat,” she said. “North Korea’s weapons program is a grave threat to the Asia-Pacific region and the entire international community. We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the U.S. homeland and our allies.”

On Sept. 17, U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps aircraft joined Japanese and South Korean military aircraft in a sequenced bilateral show of force over the Korean Peninsula in response to North Korea’s Sept. 14 launch of an intermediate range ballistic missile over Japan.

Source: US Department of Defense

Image: US Air Force B-1B breaking the sound barrier, southwest Asia, by Staff Sgt Shelley Gill (USAF).

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