US Army Apache attack helicopters stationed in South Korea are conducting live-fire drills with cannons and rockets, the US military said on Monday, as Seoul tries to boost its deterrence against North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.
The training, the first since 2019, will take place until July 29 at the Rodriguez Live Fire Complex near the highly protected Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas, police told AFP. 2nd US Infantry Division.
This will help ensure US aircrew “are qualified in their Apaches, proficient in their helicopters and capable of executing their mission if called upon,” a spokesman at AFP said in a statement.
According to images tweeted by the US 2nd Infantry Division, the AH-64E v6 uses Apache gunships.
“The 5th Squadron and 4-2nd Attack Battalion of the 17th Cavalry Regiment will conduct aerial gunnery drills to familiarize their personnel with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, Hydra 70 rockets and 30mm cannons”, it stated.
The US military stopped using the Rodriguez live fire complex in 2018 due to complaints from residents about noise and safety, according to local media.
According to a Seoul Defense Ministry official, the ongoing drills are meant to “measure noise,” apparently addressing such concerns from locals.
These types of joint exercises deeply displease Pyongyang, which views them as invasion rehearsals.
Seoul and Washington, longtime regional security allies, said in May they were seeking to resume joint military exercises that had been curtailed by Covid-19 and talks with Pyongyang had broken down.
South Korea’s new president, Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office in May, has vowed to toughen its stance on Pyongyang, including a record launch of a full-range intercontinental ballistic missile this year. Time since 2017.
Six US F-35A fighter jets also arrived in South Korea earlier this month for a 10-day joint exercise that ended on July 14. This is the first public deployment of US stealth fighter jets in the country since late 2017.