The United States flew two supersonic bombers over the Korean Peninsula on Sunday in a show of force against North Korea following the country's latest intercontinental ballistic missile test. The B-1 bombers were escorted by South Korean fighter jets on a low pass over an air base near Seoul before returning to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, the US Pacific Air Forces said, in a response to consecutive ICBM tests by North Korea. Analysts say flight data from the North's second ICBM test Friday night showed that a broader part of the mainland United States, including Los Angeles and Chicago, is now in range of Pyongyang's weapons. "North Korea remains the most urgent threat to regional stability," said Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander, per the AP.
He continued: "Diplomacy remains the lead. However ... If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal, and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing." The United States often sends powerful warplanes in times of heightened tensions with North Korea. B-1 bombers have been sent to South Korea for flyovers several times this year in response to the North's banned missile tests, and also following the death of a US college student last month after he was released by North Korea in a coma. The Hwasong-14 ICBM, which the North first tested on July 4, is the highlight of several new weapons systems Pyongyang launched this year. They include an intermediate range missile that North Korea says is capable of hitting Alaska and Hawaii, and a solid-fuel midrange missile, which analysts say can be fired faster and more secretly than liquid-fuel missiles. (Read more North Korea stories.)