SEOUL --- A group of advanced U.S. stealth fighters conducted a precision bombing drill over the Korean Peninsula earlier this week, U.S. military officials said Saturday.
About six to eight F-35B stealth fighters from a U.S. air base in Japan participated in the Korean Marine Exchange Program (KMEP), a joint drill between South Korean and U.S. Marines, and engaged in precision bombing training, among other things, before returning to their base, said the officials.
The fighter with a top speed of Mach 1.6 is known to have functions like strategic bombing and close air support for ground troops.
KMEP took place from Monday to Thursday and the air-to-ground bombing drill was reportedly carried out at the Pilsung Range in Gangwon Province, east of Seoul.
It is the first time that F-35B stealth fighters have conducted a precision bombing drill on the Korean Peninsula.
The latest bombing drill came amid the region's rising tensions over North Korea's continued provocations. Successive media reports say another nuclear weapons test appears to be imminent in the North.
The U.S. deployed 10 F-35B fighters to its Marine Corps Air Station in Japan's Iwakuni in January and six more are expected to be sent there by the year's end, according to the officials.
In case of a contingency on the Korean Peninsula, one of the first U.S. augmentation Marine forces to support South Korea are to depart from the Iwakuni base, they said.