Korean and U.S. navies conduct drill near the NLL

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Korean and U.S. navies conduct drill near the NLL

South Korean and U.S. navies conducted a joint maritime drill on Monday near the northern limit line (NLL) in the East Sea in a show of force against the North Korean military after its spate of provocations.

The drill had not been pre-planned, according to the South Korean military, and was conducted to test allies’ readiness to counter any form of military attack across the border and warn North to refrain from doing so.

For the joint exercise, the Navy’s Aegis destroyer Yulgok YiYi, along with its submarines and helicopters, were mobilized while the U.S. Navy’s guided-missile destroyer USS Spruance and its P-3 patrol aircraft also took part in the drill, which occurred only 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from the NLL.

“The drill was carried out in order to demonstrate the effective military cooperation of the Korea-U.S. alliance through close strategic consultation,” said South Korean Navy Vice Adm. Lee Ki-sik.

“The exercise also has proven the aggressive front (against the North Korean army) will thwart the enemy’s aggression and that the allies stand ready to neutralize the enemy in a time of conflict.”

During the exercise, the two navies tested launch procedures for a ship-to-surface missile against virtual targets on North Korean soil.

“The two navies checked the procedures up until a button is pressed for an actual launch,” said a South Korean official, adding that allies did not fire the missile because of its long range of up to 1,500 kilometers (932 miles).

The two navies also ran a simulated attack on North Korean submarines sneaking into the water across the border by detecting them with maritime patrol aircraft and Aegis destroyers.

The U.S.-South Korea joint drill comes after the U.S. demonstrated its commitment to protect its longtime ally and sternly strike back against Pyongyang in case it attacks the South by flying two of its most lethal strategic bombers in South Korean air earlier this month.

A pair of B-1B supersonic bombers conducted a flyover in air near the demilitarized zone last Wednesday, just eight days after it first sent another pair of B-1B bombers to the Korean Peninsula from the Andersen Air Base in Guam.

BY JEONG YONG-SOO [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]
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