August 31, 2017 / 9:31 AM / 2 years ago

Japan says jet fighters joined drills with U.S. aircaft south of Korea

Two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers fly from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, for a mission, with an escort of a pair of Japan Self-Defense Forces F-15 fighter jets and U.S. Marines' F-35B fighter jets in the vicinity of Kyushu, Japan, in this photo released by Air Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan August 31, 2017. Air Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan/HANDOUT via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese F-15 fighter jets on Thursday conducted an air exercise with U.S. B1-B bombers and F-35 stealth fighters in skies south of the Korean peninsula, two days after North Korea launched a ballistic missile over northern Japan.

The exercise around Japan’s southern island of Kyushu involved two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flying from Andersen Air Force Base on the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam and four F-35B stealth jets from the Iwakuni U.S. Marine Corp Air Station in Japan.

They were joined by two Japanese F-15 jet fighters, Japan’s Air Self Defence Force (ASDF) said in a news release.

The U.S. aircraft went on to conduct drills with South Korean military jets, the Japanese air force said.

North Korea this week fired a new strategic ballistic missile called the Hwasong-12 over northern Japan that reached an altitude of 550km (341.75 miles) before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.

Reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo and Tim Kelly; Editing by Robert Birsel

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