The United States flew two B-52 strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons for a rare joint mission with Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force in the skies near North Korea in August, the U.S. Air Force confirmed Wednesday.
“Two U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress’ assigned to 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, flew from Barksdale to conduct training with two Koku-Jieitai (Air Self-Defense Force) F-15 fighter jets over the Sea of Japan, Aug. 22, 2017,” U.S. Pacific Air Forces spokeswoman Lt. Col. Lori Hodge told The Japan Times in an email.
The U.S. military said that while it does not maintain log records of past B-52 training operations, the August mission was the first in the last year.
The timing of the mission would put it as North Korea’s ramped-up schedule of missile tests hit a crescendo with two launches over Japan and a sixth nuclear test, which was its most powerful.
“The real-time training of these flights enables our bomber force to stay proficient and ready while strengthening integration with other U.S. or coalition forces,” Hodge said. “This mission was closely planned with our allies to ensure maximum training and integration opportunities as well as compliance with all national and international requirements and protocols.”