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(LEAD) U.S. delays planned flight of B-1B bomber to S. Korea due to winds

All Headlines 14:10 September 12, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS rescheduled flight of B-1Bs in 4th para, backgrounds in 5-6 paras)
By Choi Kyong-ae

PYEONGTAEK, South Korea, Sept. 12 (Yonhap) -- The United States has postponed its planned flight of a supersonic bomber to South Korea aimed at showing its defense commitment to its key ally due to unfavorable weather conditions, the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) said Monday.

Two B-1B Lancers were scheduled to fly over the skies of South Korea at around 10:00 a.m. on Monday, flanked by an entourage of one South Korean F-15K and one U.S. F-16 fighter jets, according to the USFK.

"Due to inclement weather conditions, the engagement at Osan Air Base scheduled for today has been postponed," USFK spokesman Christopher Bush said in a statement at an air base in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of Seoul.

The USFK said the scheduled flight of the bombers will take place Tuesday morning over the U.S. air base.

In August, the U.S. Air Force forward deployed the B-1B bomber in the U.S. Pacific Command's Andersen Air Force Base on Guam partly to better counter the North's nuclear and missile threats.

The B-1B, which first went into operation with the U.S. Air Force in the 1980s, is capable of reaching speeds of up to Mach 1.25, or 1,335 kph, at very low altitude. It can carry nuclear weapons, as well as conventional guided bombs, such as the GBU-31, the GBU-38 and the GBU-54.

This undated file photo shows the B-1B supersonic bomber scheduled to fly over the skies of South Korea this week in a show of power amid North Korea's growing threats. (Yonhap)

On Friday, North Korea detonated its fifth nuclear device in the face of strong protest from the international community to halt its weapons of mass destruction programs.

The U.S. has in the past taken a series of military counteractions following major provocations by the North.

On Jan. 10, four days after the North conducted its fourth nuclear test, the U.S. sent a B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber to the skies above Osan air base as a show of force. The bomber can be armed with nuclear missiles and "bunker buster" bombs that are capable of destroying the North's hardened underground facilities.

"These provocative actions destabilize the Korean Peninsula and (the Indo-Asia-Pacific) region. The Alliance is taking steps each and every day to defend the Republic of Korea and we are always maintaining a high state of readiness," the spokesman said.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
(END)

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