September 23, 2015 11:13
The Navy will conduct a joint search and rescue exercise with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces in late October, the first time since December 2013.
It will also send a KDX destroyer to a fleet review hosted by the Japanese Navy on Oct. 18, the second time since 2002 that a South Korean naval vessel has taken part in a Japanese fleet review.
Navy chief Adm. Jung Ho-sup on Tuesday said South Korea should also include Japan in joint military exercises with the U.S. He was speaking during a parliamentary audit of the Navy at the military complex in Gyeryongdae in South Chungcheong Province.
Jung was responding to a question from New Politics Alliance for Democracy lawmaker Kim Kwang-jin, who asked, "What would you do if Japan's Self-Defense Forces offered to participate in the joint military exercise?"
"In terms of national defense, we're focused on the alliance with Washington," Jung replied. "But as far as the Navy is concerned, the 7th U.S. Fleet might not always be where we want it to be."
He added that in his personal opinion there is a need for joint drills that also include Japan to deter North Korea. Navy Headquarters hastily issued a press release the same day stressing that Jung had only been talking about matters of principle.
Meanwhile, the Navy claimed during the audit, that North Korea has about a dozen stealth high-speed "Very Slender Vessels."
A senior Navy officer said, "The stealth vessels are equipped with multiple rocket launchers and torpedo-launching tubes."
North Korea has built three kinds of VSVs and deployed them in its East and West Sea fleets, military authorities here speculate.
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