The South Korean military on Monday carried out training designed to strike key facilities of North Korea as Pyongyang continued to stage provocations in a show of force against the allies for second consecutive day.
North Korea fired five short-range projectiles into the East Sea at around 3:19 p.m. from a spot 20 kilometers south of Hamheung, South Hamgeyong Province, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The projectiles flew for about 200 kilometers. It was unconfirmed whether the objects were missiles.
South Korean fighter jets on Monday take part in an exercise aiming to strike North Korea’s key military facilities. / Air Force
The moves by the Koreas came a day after Pyongyang said it had conducted amphibious attack drills against Seoul and Washington, an indication of deteriorating relations between the cohabitants of the peninsula.
According to the Air Force, 16 fighter jets including F-15K, F-16 and the South Korean-built FA-50 -- based on the T-50 jet -- participated in the drill for the country’s strike package, which refers to a group of aircraft with different capabilities launched together for a single attack mission.
The training process was conducted via a simulated assault no-drop bomb scoring system that assesses whether the attack was successful without actually using the weapons.
It was the first time the C-130H “Hercules” transport aircraft took part in the strike package training. The four-engine turboprop aircraft by Lockheed Martin is able to operate in rough, dirt strips and used for paradropping troops and equipment into hostile areas.
The training scenario kicked off with the fighter jets -- armed with air-to-air and air-to-surface weaponry -- taking down North Korean fighters, and then dropping GPS-guided joint direct attack munition on the key military facilities of the North.
The two C-130H planes then infiltrated the hostile airspace while being escorted by FA-50s to drop a special operation team entrusted with the mission to take out remaining ground threats.
“The large-scale strike package drill was to suppress North Korea from carrying out further provocations and establish the military’s readiness. ... This training was aimed to cause confusion upon the enemy’s capacity to carry out military operations and break their will to conduct war,” an official from the Air Force said.
Inter-Korea relations have plunged to a precarious level in light of Pyongyang’s Jan. 6 nuclear testing and Feb. 7 long-range missile launch. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un recently said that his troops have the capacity to mount a nuclear warhead onto a ballistic missile and vowed to carry out related tests in the near future.
The South Korean government said Monday the North could push ahead with the nuclear tests “any day now.”
By Yoon Min-sik (firstname.lastname@example.org)