Participating for the first time in exercises with South Korea and Japan, the Marine Corps F-35B Joint Strike Fighters flew in a show-of-force flyover in direct response to North Korea’s recent provocative missile launch.
On Aug. 30, the short-takeoff and vertical-landing version of the jet flew as part of a “sequenced bilateral mission” with other aircraft belonging to the allied air force.
Two B-1Bs from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam; four U.S. Marine F-35Bs from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan; two Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-15Js and four Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) F-15Ks flew the mission to “emphasize the combined ironclad commitment to the defense of allies and the U.S. homeland,” according to a statement from U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM).
“Enhancing combined military readiness through integrated missions ensures national leaders of viable and ready military options,” PACOM said.
The mission was conducted in direct response to North Korea’s intermediate-range ballistic missile launch, which flew directly over northern Japan on Aug. 28 amid rising tension over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile development programs.
Over the course of the 10-hour mission, the F-35Bs, B-1B bombers and Japanese fighters flew together over waters near Kyushu, Japan. The U.S. and ROKAF aircraft then flew across the Korean Peninsula and practiced attack capabilities by releasing live weapons at the Pilsung Range training area before returning to their respective home stations.
“North Korea’s actions are a threat to our allies, partners and homeland, and their destabilizing actions will be met accordingly,” said Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, commander, U.S. Pacific Air Forces, who just returned from an unscheduled visit to Japan to meet with his counterparts. “This complex mission clearly demonstrates our solidarity with our allies and underscores the broadening cooperation to defend against this common regional threat. Our forward-deployed force will be the first to the fight, ready to deliver a lethal response at a moment’s notice if our nation calls.”