Coming after North Korea conducted their sixth nuclear test, vowing to create a missile capable of reaching the Western coast of the USA, it is clear that tensions will continue to climb between the rogue state and Donald Trump's government. With North Korea hell-bent on increasing the power of their arsenal, the US has joined forces with South Korea and Japan in a combined show of force, a decision that could add fuel to the fire.

Deterrent or provocation?

This "war of words" is feared by many to be spiralling out of control, with each leader prone to misinterpreting or overreacting to the rhetoric of the other.

The UN has continued to implement harsh sanctions against North Korea, recently imposing a ban on a select few shipping routes used to ferry coal and firearms to global markets. However, China have repeatedly questioned the effectiveness of these sanctions, telling the world that the only way a solution can be reached, and the harmful rhetoric dropped, would be around the negotiating table.

The US does not appear keen on calming the situation or responding to China’s warnings; according to a statement from the US Pacific Air Force, it flew two B-1B bombers alongside two F-1SK fighter jets, the latter being from South Korea, on a training mission that saw them venture across the Korean Peninsula.

The aircraft conducted missile tests into the waters of the East and Yellow seas, and were then joined by the Japanese in the evening, making it the first time these countries have participated in exercises under the cover of night.

The aircraft left from the Anderson Air Force Base on the island of Guam, a US territory with American military, naval, and air-force presence, and a key strategic position in the pacific.

Kim Jong-un has repeatedly threatened the island; shortly after their internationally shunned missile test that entered Japanese airspace, Pyongyang’s state media revealed the tests were “preludes” to military operations targeting Guam.

Why the B-1B?

America’s use of the B-1B bomber was an intentional display of military prowess; these are some of the most sophisticated aircraft that the US has at their disposal, and are claimed to be capable of the largest payloads, holding over 45 world records for speed, weight, and striking range.

It's incredibly quick (reaching Mach 1.2) and can conduct tight and controlled manoeuvres, meaning that it remains as powerfully destructive as similar bombers, whilst handling like much smaller, lightweight aircraft. Essentially, it is a shockingly efficient killing machine, and Trump wants North Korea to know what they’re up against.

NK’s foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, has previously suggested that they retain the right to shoot down American aircraft, as they claim the US has “declared a war”. Thankfully, both countries are yet to make what China’s Global Times has referred to as "fatal misjudgements", although how long that will last is anybody's guess.