The South Korean air force said it, the United States and Japan held a trilateral aerial exercise for the first time on Sunday near the Korean Peninsula.

The drill was part of their efforts to enhance defense cooperation amid North Korea's growing missile and nuclear threats. South Korean military sources said this was the first such exercise conducted by the three countries, while they have held bilateral ones before.

The latest exercise involved fighters from the South Korean Air Force, the U.S. Air Force and Japan's Air Self-Defense Force escorting a U.S. B-52 strategic bomber, which landed at a South Korean air base on Tuesday.

Photo supplied by the U.S. Air Force shows Japanese, U.S. and South Korean aircraft conducting a joint exercise south of the Korean Peninsula on Oct. 22, 2023. (U.S. Air Force/Yonhap/Kyodo)

The nuclear-capable bomber made the rare landing in South Korea after staging a commemorative flight at a biennial defense trade show held in Seongnam, near Seoul, and holding joint drills with South Korean fighter jets.

The deployment of a U.S. B-52 strategic bomber to South Korea for reasons other than participating in joint military drills is considered to be rare.

The United States and its two Asian security allies will continue strengthening trilateral cooperation, South Korea's air force said.

The U.S. military unveils a B-52 strategic bomber at an air base in Cheongju, South Korea, on Oct. 19, 2023, two days after it landed there. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

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