April 24, 2019 09:33
The U.S. Forces Korea last week staged a THAAD missile defense drill at their headquarters in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, a spokesman said Tuesday.
Gunners of the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade practiced with inert missiles. That suggests the brigade moved one Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery to the camp from its base in southwestern Korea.
USFK Facebook photos show gunners checking THAAD components and carrying inert missiles to a launcher.
The exercise aims to make the gunners more efficient in operating the THAAD system, the spokesman added.
The USFK have staged several THAAD exercises this year but in Pyeongtaek rather than Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province where they are stationed. It is not clear whether the USFK had moved a THAAD launcher from Seongju or used a different launcher for practice.
A senior South Korean military officer said. "Basically, THAAD is a mobile anti-missile defense system. The USFK's latest exercise in Pyeongtaek seems intended to send a message that the U.S. will defend its key facilities here."
The U.S. has been ratcheting up pressure on North Korea by rattling its saber since a U.S.-North Korea summit collapsed in Hanoi.
The stationing of the THAAD system here in early 2017 got South Korea into trouble with China, which fears that its powerful X-band radar could be used to spy on Chinese military maneuvers and launched a yearlong unofficial boycott of Korean goods and services in response.
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