Air assets and forces from the US and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have carried out a combined air training exercise over the Korean Peninsula.

Confirmed by the US Force Korea (USFK) Command, the joint exercise was conducted on 6 March, as a result of the redeployment of the US Air Force’s (USAF) B-52H Stratofortress strategic bomber aircraft on 3 March.

As part of this training activity, the ROK Air Force (ROKAF) deployed its F-15 aircraft and F-16 fighter jets to escort the USAF’s B-52 bomber while it was entering the Korean air defence identification zone.

The flight operations were performed to showcase the collective defence capabilities of the two nations to deliver extended deterrence to safeguard the Korean Peninsula and bolster overall regional security.

It also allowed the US and South Korean forces to enhance interoperability.

In a tweet, the ROK MND said: “This combined air exercise was carried out in time for the start of the combined exercise (FS exercise) in the first half of 2023 under close cooperation between the defence authorities of the two countries, adding to its meaning. Going forward, we will actively implement ‘activation of US extended deterrence’ and ‘Peace through Strength’.”

Last month, the US conducted separate joint air training missions with the ROK and Japan, two days after the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea) test-fired a long-range ballistic missile.

The latest drills will also precede the US-ROK’s upcoming 11-day joint defensive exercise, called Freedom Shield.

According to the ROK’s Ministry of National Defense, Freedom Shield will be held between 13 to 23 March to strengthen the bilateral ‘defence and response capabilities and also focus on DPRK’s aggression and changing security environment’.