South Korea, US and Japan on Sunday held a trilateral missile defense exercise in the international waters of the East Sea after North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) last week. Seoul’s navy said. The exercise took place as the three countries were strengthening security coordination amid the firing of the Hwasong-18 solid-fuel ICBM by Pyongyang last Wednesday.
Three Aegis-equipped destroyers -the South’s ROKS Yulgok Yi I, the US USS John Finn and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s JS Maya — were involved in the exercise, Yonhap news agency reported, citing the South Korean armed services. It said that under the scenario of a ballistic missile launch by North Korea, the exercise focused on detecting and tracking a computer-simulated ballistic missile target and practising related information sharing procedures.
“The exercise serves as an opportunity to enhance our military’s response capabilities against ballistic missiles and improve security cooperation between South Korea, the United States and Japan,” a Navy official was quoted as saying. “Based on our military’s powerful response system and trilateral coordination, (we) will effectively respond to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats,” the official said.
The three countries last held such a three-way missile defense exercise in April. Sunday’s drills are the fourth under the Yoon Suk Yeol administration, which has made efforts to strengthen trilateral cooperation against Pyongyang’s military threats. In a show of strength against the North’s ICBM launches, South Korea and the US held joint air drills on Thursday. including the US B-52H strategic bomber.