US Goes North Korean Sub Hunting With Key Asian Allies


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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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The U.S., South Korea, and Japan are training to eliminate Kim Jong-un’s submarines.

North Korea successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile last summer, adding another weapon to North Korea’s arsenal. In the face of this threat, the U.S. and its allies began joint military drills Monday to track and destroy the North’s submarines, the Yonhap News Agency reports.

The Pukguksong-1, designated as the KN-11 in the U.S., is the SLBM North Korea tested last August. The sub-launched missile is believed to be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, exposing North Korea’s neighbors to potential nuclear strikes from beneath the surface of the ocean. North Korea unveiled a new mid-range ballistic missile in February based on SLBM technology, signaling the North’s capabilities are improving.

Kim Jong-un heralded last year’s SLBM test as the “greatest success.”

The joint drills that began Monday were carried out to counter this growing threat from a regime that has threatened to launch nuclear strikes on Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo.

Allied naval vessels hunted a mock submarine, defended high-value targets, and practiced anti-submarine defense maneuvers. “The drill was intended to improve the three countries’ anti-submarine search, identification and tracking capabilities so as to ensure their effective response to threats from North Korea, which is developing SLBMs,” the South Korean Navy said in a statement.

The three countries launched multiple ships and aircraft for the drills.

South Korea deployed its 4,500-ton Kang Gam Chan destroyer and a Lynx helicopter for the exercises, Japan sent a Sawagiri destroyer and an anti-submarine helicopter, and the U.S. dispatched the Aegis destroyer USS McCampbell, a MH-60 anti-submarine helicopter, and a P-3 Orion patrol plane. The joint drills involved around 800 troops from the three participating countries.

Joint military drills have been ongoing on and around the Korean peninsula for the past month.

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