Skip to main content

U.S. flies B-52s over South Korea

By Brad Lendon, CNN
March 20, 2013 -- Updated 0054 GMT (0854 HKT)
Emergency service personnel wearing chemical protective clothing participate in an anti-chemical warfare exercise on Tuesday, April 16 in Seoul. Tensions remain high in the Korean Peninsula in the wake of North Korea's recent nuclear threats and provocations. A Pentagon intelligence assessment suggests the North may have the ability to deliver a nuclear weapon with a ballistic missile, though the reliability is believed to be "low." Emergency service personnel wearing chemical protective clothing participate in an anti-chemical warfare exercise on Tuesday, April 16 in Seoul. Tensions remain high in the Korean Peninsula in the wake of North Korea's recent nuclear threats and provocations. A Pentagon intelligence assessment suggests the North may have the ability to deliver a nuclear weapon with a ballistic missile, though the reliability is believed to be "low."
HIDE CAPTION
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
Militaries and Korean tensions
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: North Korea describes the move as as "unpardonable provocation"
  • Heavy bombers taking part in U.S.-South Korea exercises
  • Pentagon: Missions show "U.S. commitment to the security of our allies and partners"
  • B-52s flying from base on Guam

(CNN) -- The U.S. Air Force is breaking out some of its heaviest hardware to send a message to North Korea.

A Pentagon spokesman said Monday that B-52 bombers are making flights over South Korea as part of military exercises this month.

Read: North Korean video shows imagined attack on Washington

"Despite challenges with fiscal constraints, training opportunities remain important to ensure U.S. and ROK (Republic of Korea) forces are battle-ready and trained to employ air power to deter aggression, defend the Republic of Korea and defeat any attack against the alliance," Pentagon spokesman George Little said Monday in a meeting with reporters at the Pentagon.

Little said the eight-engine bombers first flew as part of the annual Foal Eagle training exercises on March 8 and were to fly again over South Korea on Tuesday.

Read: Under threat, South Koreans mull nuclear weapons

U.S. lawmaker: Kim Jong Un is immature
Nuclear fears in South Korea
U.S. to boost missile defense
North Korean video targets White House

"This mission highlights the extended deterrence and conventional capabilities of the B-52 Stratofortress," Little said Monday.

The bombers are flying out of Andersen Air Force Base on the Pacific island of Guam as part of what the U.S. Pacific Command calls a "continuous bomber presence" in the region. The round trip between Guam and the Korean Peninsula is about 4,000 miles.

"These ... missions are routine and reiterate the U.S. commitment to the security of our allies and partners," Little said.

Read: China: U.S. risks antagonizing North Korea

The B-52 flights come amid spiking tensions between North Korea and the United States after the U.N. Security Council voted to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea following its latest nuclear test last month.

In a slew of angry rhetoric in response to the U.N. vote, North Korea has threatened to carry out a pre-emptive nuclear attack on the United States and South Korea and said it was nullifying the armistice agreement that stopped the Korean War in 1953.

Reacting to the U.S. flights, a spokesman for the North Korean foreign ministry described them as an "unpardonable provocation," the state news agency reported.

"The DPRK is now closely watching the move of B-52 and the hostile forces will never escape its strong military counteraction, should the strategic bomber make such sortie to the peninsula again," KCNA reported.

Seoul said the B-52 flights demonstrate the strength of the U.S.-South Korea alliance.

"As North Korea threatened to attack South Korea with nuclear weapons, the exercise involving B-52s is meaningful as it shows U.S. commitment to provide its nuclear umbrella on the Korean Peninsula," South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said in a briefing, according to a report from the Yonhap news agency.

U.S. officials said they don't believe North Korea is in a position to strike the United States at the moment, but Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced plans last week to deploy additional ground-based missile interceptors on the West Coast as part of efforts to enhance the nation's ability to defend itself from attack.

As for the B-52s, they have been in the U.S. arsenal since 1955. Once part of the country's nuclear triad planes, missiles and submarines, the B-52 is now used predominantly as a conventional bomber and as a platform for air-launched cruise missiles. The Air Force said B-52s dropped 40% of all the munitions used by coalition forces during Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s.

Read: U.S. lawmaker questions North Korean leader's 'stability'

CNN's Chris Lawrence contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 0135 GMT (0935 HKT)
Three Americans detained in North Korea spoke out about their conditions Monday in an exclusive interview with CNN.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 0852 GMT (1652 HKT)
The crowd cheers as the stars make their way to the ring for first pro-wrestling bout North Korea has seen in almost 20 years.
August 31, 2014 -- Updated 0137 GMT (0937 HKT)
CNN's Will Ripley makes a rare live report from reclusive North Korea.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1823 GMT (0223 HKT)
CNN's Will Ripley is given a rare look inside North Korea and tours Kim Jong Un's pet project, a waterpark.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1918 GMT (0318 HKT)
Several South Korean "comfort woman" attended a Papal mass, but hope the Pope will do more. Erin McLaughlin reports.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 0228 GMT (1028 HKT)
Pope Francis arrived in Seoul Thursday, marking the first papal visit to the country in 25 years.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1221 GMT (2021 HKT)
North Korea rejected an invitation to the Pope's Mass in Seoul. CNN's Paula Hancocks reports.
July 2, 2014 -- Updated 2225 GMT (0625 HKT)
As diplomats discuss a string of unsolved kidnappings of Japanese citizens by North Korea, the families of those abducted anxiously wait.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 2357 GMT (0757 HKT)
When President Xi Jinping arrives in Seoul this week, the Chinese leader will have passed over North Korea in favor of its arch rival.
July 1, 2014 -- Updated 0313 GMT (1113 HKT)
North Korea says it plans to prosecute two American tourists that it detained earlier this year, accusing them of "perpetrating hostile acts."
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 2338 GMT (0738 HKT)
North Korea proposed that "all hostile military activities" with South Korea be halted, but it attached conditions that Seoul is likely to reject.
June 27, 2014 -- Updated 0023 GMT (0823 HKT)
North Korean state news is reporting the country test-launched "cutting-edge ultra precision tactical guided missiles."
June 25, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
James Franco won't be following Dennis Rodman into North Korea anytime soon.
June 13, 2014 -- Updated 1104 GMT (1904 HKT)
Don't you hate it when the weatherman gets it wrong? Apparently, so does Kim Jong Un.
June 5, 2014 -- Updated 2344 GMT (0744 HKT)
New signs show Russia and North Korea are developing a closer relationship.
May 22, 2014 -- Updated 0012 GMT (0812 HKT)
Photographer Eric Lafforgue visited North Korea and shares his inside look at the most isolated country in the world.
May 13, 2014 -- Updated 0125 GMT (0925 HKT)
Many North Koreans listen to illegal broadcasts on homemade radios, some are convinced to defect.
May 8, 2014 -- Updated 1926 GMT (0326 HKT)
Jang Jin-Sung, a North Korean defector and former regime insider, speaks with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.
ADVERTISEMENT