Japanese F-15 fighters on Tuesday held drills with U.S. B1-B bombers, F-35 stealth aircraft and F-18 multi role combat jets above the East China Sea, south of the Korean peninsula, Japan’s Air Self Defence Force (ASDF) said.
The exercise was the largest in a series aimed at pressuring North Korea following its ballistic missile tests. The latest launch, on Nov. 29, featured a new missile type the North said could hit targets in the United States, such as Washington D.C.
“The drill was meant to bolster joint operations and raise combat skills,” the ASDF said in a statement.
Two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flew from Andersen Air Force Base on the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam, joined by six F-35s four F-18s and a tanker aircraft from U.S. bases in Japan.
The Japanese air force dispatched four F-15 jet fighters and a patrol aircraft.
Meanwhile, Russia’s military chief warned on Monday that military exercises by Japan, the United States and South Korea aimed at counteringNorth Korea only raise hysteria and create more instability in theregion.
Russian Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces General Valery Gerasimov, issued his warning in Tokyo as the United States, Japan and South Korea began a two-day exercise to practice tracking missiles amid rising tension over North Korea’s weapons programs.
“Carrying out military training in regions surrounding North Korea will only heighten hysteria and make the situation unstable,” Gerasimov said at the beginning of a meeting with Japanese Minister of Defence Itsunori Onodera.
This week’s exercise by the United States and its two Asian allies, in which they will share information on tracking ballistic missiles, comes just days after large-scale drills by U.S. and South Korean forces that North Korea said made the outbreak of war “an established fact”.
North Korea says its weapons programs are necessary to counter U.S. aggression.
On Nov. 29, North Korea test-fired its latest ballistic missile, which it said was its most advanced yet, capable of reaching the mainland United States.
China has also repeatedly called for the United States and South Korea to stop their exercises, which North Korea sees as preparation for an invasion.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, asked in Beijing about the latest U.S., South Korean and Japanese drills, said the situation was in a vicious cycle that if followed to a conclusion would not be in anyone’s interests.
“All relevant parties should do is still to completely, precisely and fully implement the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions toward North Korea, and do more for regional peace and stability and to get all parties back to the negotiating table. Not the opposite, mutual provocation,” Lu said.