U.S. To deploy B-1B strategic bomber to U.S.-South Korea drill Saturday

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SEOUL, Nov 5 (Reuters) – The U.S. Air Force plans to deploy B-1B strategic bombers in U.S.-South Korea military exercises on Saturday, Yonhap News reported, after North Korea fired a barrage of weapons tests in recent days to protest allied military drills.

Seoul and Washington have been holding “Vigilant Storm” air drills since Monday, which were extended by a day to Saturday in response to what the allies call continued provocations by North Korea.

This is the first the B-1B has been deployed in U.S.-South Korean drills since 2017, Yonhap said. The United States has kept four of the bombers in Guam since late October, according to the news agency.

South Korea has asked the United States to step up deployment of “strategic assets”, which include aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, and long-range bombers like the B-1B.

U.S. and South Korean authorities did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

After talks with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Washington on Thursday, South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup said the United States had agreed to employ “U.S. strategic assets to the level equivalent to constant deployment through increasing the frequency and intensity of strategic asset deployment in and around the Korean Peninsula.”

Reporting by Cynthia Kim and Josh Smith; Editing by William Mallard

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