The U.S. issued a warning message against North Korea by staging a show of force by deploying B-2 Spirit strategic bombers capable of loading nuclear warheads on Saturday. The move comes as Pyongyang has been widely advertising the successful test fire of its new ‘Hwasong-17’ intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland.
The U.S. Air Force’s 509th Bomb Wing posted on Facebook ‘Elephant Walk’ of eight B-2 bombers, a concurrent sortie exercise of fully armed bombers, at the Whiteman Airbase in Missouri. “Team Whiteman executes B-2 Spirit Elephant Walk and Fly-off as the grand finale of Whiteman's annual Spirit Vigilance exercise,” the post read. “This routine training ensures U.S. Air Force airmen are always ready to execute nuclear operations and global strike.”
Elephant Walk is an exercise aimed at sortieing fighter jets in the shortest time in the event of a situation through taxiing aircraft in close formation right before takeoff. Equipped with stealth function, the B-2 bomber can load nuclear warheads, including 61 and B83, and thus constitutes one of the U.S.'s three strategic bombers. “It is a strong warning message against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un” Bruce Bennett, a senior researcher at the U.S. military thinktank Rand Corporation, told Voice of America.
In the U.S., there is growing skepticism about the possibility of China persuading North Korea to halt the latter’s provocations. According to the Wall Street Journal on Saturday, President Joe Biden said he was ‘optimistic’ as he pressured Chinese President Xi Jinping to dissuade North Korea from conducting nuclear tests or missile tests. However, (the reality) does not seem to be the case. “China and Russia’s protection is making Kim Jong Un bold, and Pyongyang is mocking global response ahead of its nuclear tests,” the newspaper said. “Washington should dump its trust in the UN and focus on mobilizing allies (to respond to the North).”