A US Air Force nuclear-capable B-2 bomber has flown over the Pacific, days ahead President Donald Trump’s visit to Japan and South Korea.
The long-range bomber took off from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri over the weekend and conducted its mission over undisclosed parts of the Asia Pacific region.
The US military’s Strategic Command said in a statement that the mission was aimed at familiarizing the “aircrew with air bases and operations in different geographic combatant commands, enabling them to maintain a high state of readiness and proficiency.”
The flight was also “a visible demonstration of commitment to our allies and enhancing regional security,” the statement added.
Although the Pentagon has refused to give more details about the mission, it seems that the US was seeking to convey a message to North Korea ahead of Trump’s visit to the Korean Peninsula later this week.
Trump has been engaged in a war of words with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un over the past months, threatening to destroy his country if it did not stop nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches.
Pyongyang in response has threatened to attack the US Pacific territory of Guam as well as the American mainland.
This was not the first time that Washington was using B-2 bombers to intimidate the North.
In 2013, the US military sent two of the stealth bombers on a round-trip mission over the region. The aircraft even released inert munitions near South Korea’s coast.
On Sunday, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford hosted his South Korean and Japanese counterparts at the US Pacific Command headquarters in Hawaii to discuss Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear tests.
“Together, they called upon North Korea to refrain from irresponsible provocations that aggravate regional tensions, and to walk away from its destructive and reckless path of development,” the US military said in a statement.
The day before, Defense Secretary James Mattis said that Washington was not going to allow the North to continue its defense programs.
“North Korea has accelerated the threat that it poses to its neighbors and the world through its illegal and unnecessary missile and nuclear weapons programs,” Mattis said in South Korea. “I cannot imagine a condition under which the United States would accept North Korea as a nuclear power.”