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B-2 Spirits Fly Far to Deter North Korea

On the contrails of the recent B-52 Stratofortress training flight over South Korea, two B-2 Spirits from the 509th Bomb Wing have gotten in on the action. Their contribution to the ongoing Foal Eagle training exercise is impressive considering that they had to fly more than 6,500 miles and 20 hours from their home base of Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. to do so. According to a U.S. Forces Korea press release, two B-2 Spirit bombers flew a long-duration, round-trip training mission from Whiteman to the Jik Do Range, South Korea, on March 28, dropped inert munitions and returned home.

A B-2 Spirit stealth bomber is refueled in-flight by a KC-135 on Jan. 23, 2013, over the Pacific Ocean. Two B-2 crews from the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force, Mo., flew training missions out of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam in support of in-theater training objectives. The B-2s that flew to South Korea conducted a non-stop 6,500 mile flight that would have required several air-to-air refuelings. U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Brooke P. Doyle

A B-2 Spirit stealth bomber is refueled in-flight by a KC-135 on Jan. 23, 2013, over the Pacific Ocean. Two B-2 crews from the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force, Mo., flew training missions out of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam in support of in-theater training objectives. The B-2s that flew to South Korea conducted a non-stop 6,500 mile flight that would have required several air-to-air refuelings. U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Brooke P. Doyle

The B-2 training mission conducted by U.S. Strategic Command was another sign that the U.S. is steadfastly committed to the defense of South Korea amidst continuing tensions in the region due to, among other things, North Korea’s pronouncement that it was going to invalidate the Korean armistice. The ability to fly stealth B-2s from the continental U.S. to the Korean peninsula in one continuous mission should keep Kim Jong-un up at night. B-2 bombers provide an extended deterrence tool for the U.S. and her allies in the Pacific region. They have a demonstrated capability to perform precision strikes quickly and at will.

The B-2 mission to South Korea was independent of the recent U.S. Air Force decision to resume regular B-2 rotations to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. However, both fit in with the U.S strategic aim of deterring aggression and ensuring peace and stability in the region.

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Steven Hoarn is the Editor/Photo Editor for Defense Media Network. He is a graduate of...