Defense Minister Han Min-koo on Saturday visited an Aegis-equipped destroyer tasked with immediately detecting North Korea's long-range rocket in case of a launch, his ministry said.
Aboard the 7600-ton KDX-III destroyer Seoae Ryu Seong-ryong, Han instructed the troops to maintain full combat posture with North Korea poised to launch what it claims to be a space vehicle.
Pyongyang informed U.N. agencies that it would send a satellite into orbit between Feb. 8-25.
The minister noted that South Korea's Aegis ships were the first to detect the secretive North's three previous long-range rocket launches, according to the ministry.
"(You) should maintain an immediate response posture and watertight surveillance posture to detect it first this time as well and share (relevant) information," Han was quoted as saying.
In a show of the strong alliance, top military officers of both South Korea and the U.S. made a joint tour of the Joint Security Area inside the truce village of Panmunjom.
Gen. Lee Sun-jin, chairman of South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), and U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti called for full combined combat readiness, according to the JCS.
Lee said the allies will protect peace and stability on the peninsula on the basis of the robust alliance that has lasted more than six decades, it added. (Yonhap)