South Korea’s military scrambled about 30 jet fighters Thursday after a dozen North Korean jets and bombers were spotted flying in formation near the border, military officials in Seoul said. It was just the latest escalation of tensions on the divided peninsula as a string of recent North Korean missile tests have many convinced Pyongyang is on the verge of a new nuclear weapons test.
The group of North Korean combat aircraft included eight fighters and four bombers. They were thought to have been conducting air-to-ground firing drills, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.
Thursday’s air maneuver is the latest provocative measure that followed recent North Korean missile launches, including at least one that flew over Japan. The missile firings prompted military exercises between the U.S. and Japan and the U.S. and South Korea.
On Tuesday, a South Korean F-15K fighter launched two precision bombs on an uninhabited island off the country’s coast in response.
On Wednesday, the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier returned to South Korea after holding naval exercises with Tokyo and Seoul, officials said.