US warplanes stage fly-over amid tensions with North Korea

The US military has flown bombers and stealth jets over the Korean Peninsula in drills with South Korean and Japanese warplanes, three days after North Korea fired a missile over Japan.

The North launched its latest missile as it protested against tough new UN sanctions over its sixth nuclear test on September 3.

Monday's fly-overs involved two B-1Bs and four F-35Bs from the US military as well as four F-15K fighter jets from South Korea, according to South Korean and US defence chiefs.

The US and South Korean planes flew across the Korean Peninsula and practised attacks by launching live weapons at a firing range in South Korea, the US Pacific Command said.

The US warplanes also conducted formation training with Japanese fighter jets over waters near the southern island of Kyushu, according to the Pacific Command.

File photo of an F-15K fighter jet

The United States often sends powerful military aircraft in a show of force in times of heightened animosities with North Korea.

Since Kim Jong Un took power in North Korea in late 2011, his nation has tested weapons at a torrid pace.

The country flight-tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July. Its nuclear test in September was its most powerful to date.

Many experts say it is only a matter of time until Kim achieves his stated objective of possessing reliable nuclear-tipped missiles capable of striking anywhere in the mainland US.

State media quoted Mr Kim as saying that North Korea's final goal "is to establish the equilibrium of real force with the US and make the US rulers dare not talk about military option" for the North.

Alarmed by North Korea's advancing weapons programmes, many conservatives in South Korea have called for the reintroduction of US tactical nuclear weapons in the South.

But the liberal-leaning government of President Moon Jae-in said it has no intention of requesting that the US bring back such weapons.

South Korean defence minister Song Young-moo told MPs that it is "not proper" to reintroduce US nuclear weapons.

He previously said the idea should be "deeply considered" by the allies, inflaming already-heated debate on the issue.

AP


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