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US sends B-52 bombers, F-22 fighters for war games with South Korea

The B-52 is an American long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic long-range nuclear bomber. (File Photo)

South Korea and the United States have conducted a combined "military air drill" on Tuesday involving US nuclear-capable bombers and advanced stealth jets, Seoul said, amid rapidly escalating tensions with North Korea.

The drills included US B-52 bombers and F-22 stealth fighter jets and took place in the South's air defense identification zone southwest of its southern island of Jeju, as part of an agreement for the US to protect South Korea from all military threats, South Korea’s defense ministry said.

"The deployment of the B-52H and F-22 fighters this time is part of an effort to reinforce the credibility of the US' extended deterrence," the ministry said.

The ministry added in a press release, US F-22 jets, deployed in the Asian country first time in four years, trained with Seoul’s F-35 and F-15 fighter jets and are to stay throughout the training with the Korean forces.

The F-22 fighter jets had previously visited South Korea for air drills in 2018.

As a key US strategic asset, the training session focused on strengthening the operational capabilities of the two country’s fighter jets to escort and protect the bomber, according to Seoul’s defense ministry.

"The South and the US will further solidify the combined defense posture of the South Korea-U.S. alliance regarding the North's nuclear and missile threats by continuing to strengthen the alliance's capabilities and posture, including the US' extended deterrence," the ministry said.

The war game came after North Korea said it conducted an important, final phase test for the development of a surveillance satellite on Sunday.

The launch was conducted at the country’s Sohae satellite launching station in the northwest to review its capability of satellite imaging, data transmission and ground control systems.

The missile tests last week also came as an extension of a flurry of similar tests conducted by Pyongyang this year in sheer defiance of warnings issued on an almost daily basis by its archenemies, the United States, Japan, and South Korea.

United States, Japan and South Korea have vowed to consider all available options to counter what they deem a threat posed by the North.

Nuclear-armed North Korea has tested a record number of missiles this year, and officials in Seoul and Washington say the North has completed technical preparations to conduct a nuclear weapon test for the first time since 2017.

North Korea considers the US military drills with South Korea and Japan provocative measures that are designed for invasion.

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