U.S. and South Korean military forces yesterday conducted an exercise during the early morning, South Korea Time, in response to North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile launch, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters today.
The exercise utilized the Eighth U.S. Army’s Tactical Missile System and South Korean Hyunmoo II missiles. U.S. and South Korean personnel fired missiles into territorial waters along South Korea’s east coast, Davis said.
“This is a system that can be rapidly deployed and engaged; [it] provides deep-strike precision capability and enables the [South] Korea-U.S. alliance to engage a full array of time-critical targets under all weather conditions,” he said.
The combined exercise between the two nations followed the “destabilizing and unlawful actions” of North Korea’s launch, Davis noted, adding that it was the first ICBM that nation has launched.
U.S. Detected ICBM
The United States detected the ICBM and tracked it for 37 minutes, the longest time of flight for any ballistic missile North Korea has launched to date, he said.
The ICBM launched from North Korea’s Banghyon Airfield, which is about 62 miles from Pyongyang, Davis said. The North Korean missile landed in the Sea of Japan, he added.
“We strongly condemn this act by North Korea,” Davis said. “It is escalatory [and] destabilizing. It is also dangerous. This missile flew throughout busy airspace used by commercial airliners. It flew into space; it landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone in an area that’s used by commercial and fishing vessels. All of this was completely uncoordinated.”
Monitoring North Korean Actions
Davis said the United States continues to monitor and assess North Korea’s actions in close coordination with regional allies and partners.
“This act demonstrates that North Korea poses a threat to the United States and our allies, and we remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies and to use the full range of capabilities that are at our disposal against the growing threat from North Korea,” he said.
The U.S. commitment to defend its allies South Korea and Japan “remains ironclad,” Davis said.
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDOD)