US, Japan conduct joint drills amid DPRK missile launches
The United States and Japan are still conducting their military drills as the DPRK launches short-range ballistic missiles off its coasts.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) fired four short-range ballistic missiles off its west coast on Saturday, the South Korean military said, as quoted by Japanese news agency Kyodo News.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected the launches toward the Yellow Sea from Tongrim Country in North Pyongan. Reportedly, the missiles flew about 130 kilometers at an altitude of some 20 km, reaching a top speed of Mach 5.
The Japanese air self-defense force held a joint exercise with the US military in response to the DPRK launching ballistic missiles off its coasts, Kyodo further said, citing Tokyo's defense ministry.
According to the news agency, five Japanese F-2 fighters, two US B-1B strategic bombers, and two US F-16 fighters took part in the drills.
DPRK announced it was in retribution for provocations by South Korea, which included recent joint drills with the US.
This comes after the US Defense Ministry official in Seoul announced that a US B-1B strategic bomber is set to participate in the joint air drills with South Korea on Saturday.
The US and South Korea warned that the succession of launches could lead to a "nuclear test" by DPRK and have prolonged their largest-ever air force drills until Saturday.
As a South Korean Defense Ministry official reported to AFP, a US Air Force B-1B strategic bomber would participate on the last day of exercises, dubbed Vigilant Storm, which was scheduled from Monday to Friday this week.
"B-1B is scheduled to participate in the afternoon training," the official said, without providing further details.