American B-1B Lancer bombers will fly over the Korean Peninsula Wednesday in the combined air force exercise with South Korea, South Korean Yonhap News Agency reported Tuesday citing an unidentified military source.
The U.S. and South Korea began a five-day drill, called Vigilant Ace, on Monday amid increased tensions with North Korea over its nuclear program and recent ballistic missile tests.
The annual exercise, which will include an unusually large number of the latest generations of American stealth fighter jets, comes a week after North Korea test-fired its most powerful missile, an ICBM possibly capable of reaching the U.S. East Coast.
Around 12,000 U.S. service members, including from the Marines and Navy, will join South Korean troops.
The U.S. Seventh Air Force has said the exercise is not in response to any incident or provocation.
But earlier, the North Korean state media said the drill pushes the Korean Peninsula “to the brink of nuclear war.”
North Korea routinely uses strong language to denounce U.S.-South Korean military exercises that it claims are preparations for an invasion of the reclusive country.
The high tensions on the peninsula are raising concerns, prompting the United Nations’ political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman to make a rare trip to Pyongyang.
A U.N. spokesman said Feltman will discuss “issues of mutual interest and concern” with Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and Vice Minister Pak Myong Guk during his visit, which ends on Friday — as does the military drill.