The United States Air Force is on the brink of placing its fleet of nuclear-capable B-52 bombers on 24-hour’s notice for the first time in over 25 years as tensions between the US and North Korea continue to escalate on the Korean peninsula, reports Fox News.
Military insiders confirmed the move over the weekend, saying the 24-hour notice puts the US “one step closer” to emergency “preparedness” should an all-out war erupt between the US and the communist nation.
“This is yet one more step in ensuring that we’re prepared,” said Gen. David Goldfein. “I look at it more as not planning for any specific event, but more for the reality of the global situation we find ourselves in and how we ensure we’re prepared going forward.”
“It’s no longer a bipolar world where it’s just us and the Soviet Union. We’ve got other players out there who have nuclear capability. It’s never been more important to make sure that we get this mission right,” he added.
The B-52 nuclear-capable bomber flies at supersonic speeds at an altitude of approximately 50,000 feet; nearly double the height of commercial passenger jets. The military plane can drop a variety of payloads, including gravity bombs, cluster bombs, guides missiles, and nuclear warheads.
The last time the fleet was on 24 hour’s notice was 1991, and ended shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
CRISIS IN KOREA: US Preps Evacuation of All Americans from South Korea
The United States Military will conduct massive drills next week, simulating the full-scale evacuation of thousands of American citizens from inside South Korea should war erupt between the US and North Korea, reports the New York Times.
The operation, code-named Courageous Channel, will take place next Monday and last five days; preparing American service members and their families “to respond to a wide range of crisis management events such as noncombatant evacuation and natural or man-made disasters,” said a US official.
While evacuation drills are not uncommon for the US military in the region, the move raises new fears among South Koreans that the simulation may signal an impending strike on North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
The war of words between the United States and the communist nation reached new heights over the weekend, when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he hoped diplomacy would successfully force Kim to voluntarily abandon his nuclear arsenal “until the first bombs drop.”
“Those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops,” Tillerson told CNN. “The President has also made clear to me that he wants this solved diplomatically. He is not seeking to go to war.”