S. Korea, U.S., Japan hold missile defense drills in East Sea amid N. Korean threats

April 17, 2023

South Korea, the United States and Japan held a trilateral missile defense exercise in the international waters of the East Sea on Monday, Seoul’s Navy said, amid stepped-up efforts to sharpen deterrence against North Korean threats.

The three nations have been reinforcing security coordination following Pyongyang’s provocative acts, such as the launch of a purportedly solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile last Thursday.

The exercise featured three Aegis-equipped destroyers — the South’s ROKS Yulgok Yi I, the U.S.’ USS Benfold and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s JS Atago, according to the armed service.

It focused on practicing procedures to detect and track a computer-simulated ballistic missile target, and share related information.

“This was an opportunity to strengthen security cooperation among the South, the U.S. and Japan against the North’s advancing nuclear and missile threats, and firm up our Navy’s capabilities to respond to ballistic missile launches,” a Navy official was quoted as saying.

The three countries last held such a three-way missile defense exercise in February.

During their senior-level defense dialogue, called the Defense Trilateral Talks, last week, they agreed to hold missile defense and anti-submarine exercises regularly to counter the North’s threats.