U.S. bombers, Japanese fighter jets conduct drill over Korean Peninsula

Wayne CurryОкт 12, 2017

Two supersonic USA bombers flew over the Korean Peninsula, officials said Wednesday, in a show of force amid growing tensions with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program. It said the United States warplanes flew with fighter jets from the South Korean air force and Japan Self-Defense Force in the first nighttime B-1 bomber exercise between the three allies.

There are also serious concerns about North Korea's cyberwarfare capabilities, but the US has been carrying out operations of its own to counter North Korean cyber operations in Northeast Asia and elsewhere.

South Korea's spy agency told lawmakers after the September 23 mission that North Korea failed to detect the B-1B bombers as they flew in global airspace east of the country.

A spokesman from South Korea's Defense Ministry declined to comment, saying the information is classified.

Rep. Lee Cheol-hee, a lawmaker for the ruling Democratic Party who sits on the National Defense Committee, said defense sources told him that North Korean hackers a year ago stole the classified U.S.

The U.S. Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) said in a statement this was the first nighttime American B-1 bomber drill conducted with the two U.S. allies in the region.

The information, that included wartime contingency plans drawn up by the US and South Korea, was from the country's defence ministry, according to Rhee Cheol-hee, a South Korean lawmaker.

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Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam will hold strategic talks with visiting U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan on October 18 in Seoul, according to Seoul's foreign ministry.

A pre-emptive strike against Pyongyang's leadership would be hard to undertake, but it's widely seen as the most realistic of the limited military options Seoul has to deny a nuclear attack from its rival.

Among the classified plans allegedly stolen from the South were said to be blueprints for targeted attacks by Seoul and Washington to eliminate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un if a crisis breaks out or appears imminent.

Lee said that 235 gigabytes of military documents were taken, but the military has yet to identify 80 percent of the documents that were compromised.

While the attention Wednesday was on air power, upcoming US-South Korea naval exercises could further aggravate tensions.

Commenting on the news is Chris Doman, security researcher at AlienVault, who is investigating hacking groups in North Korea.

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