A three-day defense exercise began on Tuesday in waters near Ulleung Island and Dokdo in preparation for an invasion of the area by countries including Japan, the Korea Navy announced.
It is the first time the country's state-of-the-art F-15K fighter jets have taken part in such a drill, the first of its kind this year. Also participating in the exercise are six naval vessels, including the 3,000 t-class Kwanggaeto the Great DDH-971 destroyer and 1,800 t-class FFK-955 Masan escort ship, P-3C maritime patrol aircraft, Lynx anti-submarine helicopters, and Coast Guard's 3,000 t-class Taepyeongyang No.7 and 1,000 t-class Hangang No. 8 patrol ships.
In the past, the Defense Ministry and military authorities did not announce the Dokdo defense drills to the press, but they made an exception this year after Japan laid renewed claim to the Korean islets in guidelines for teachers.
The exercise will be carried out according to a step-by-step scenario on the assumption that a vessel invades the territorial waters near Dokdo -- from the information gathering stage via reviewing the situation and checking the invading vessel's identity to the Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force driving the vessel out of the waters in joint operations.
The F-15Ks with an operating range of 1,800 km are capable of carrying out operations for more than an hour in the air above Dokdo and attacking vessels with Harpoon air-to-surface missiles with a range of 130 km.
The Kwanggaeto the Great DDH-971 destroyer is equipped with Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missiles with a range of 18 km, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and "Goalkeepers," which are capable of firing 4,500 rounds of 30 mm shells per minute.