About 40 ships, including the nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, are conducting training maneuvers in the Yellow Sea and Sea of Japan. Nuclear-powered USS Tucson and USS Michigan submarines are also at port in South Korea.
According to Yonhap news agency, US strike team will conduct the training along with the South Korean warships and aviation, including the Sejong the Great Aegis ship and P-3 “Orion” anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft. F-15K, FA-18 and A-10 jets will also to take part in the drills, along with Apache AH-64E, Lynx and AW-159 Wild Cat helicopters.
The US also deployed a Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) plane to closely monitor the North Korea’s ground and naval forces. The maneuvers will go on until October 20.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, is en route to the western Pacific, possibly to join USS Ronald Reagan.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have risen sharply in recent weeks following a series of weapons tests by Pyongyang, including its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3 and two missile launches over Japan.
Despite North Korean threats to shoot down American planes flying near the Korean Peninsula outside of the country’s airspace border, following a war of words between North Korean and US leaders, the US and South Korean planes are still conducting reconnaissance.
The US are increasing their presence in the region, wary of the fact that the new missile may be able to reach the US West Coast, according to russian lawmaker who returned from a visit to Pyongyang earlier this month. South Korea has been actively looking to increase its defensive capabilities against the North, hence the US setting up Terminal High Altitude Area Defense Systems (THAAD) in the region.
South Korean intelligence officials and analysts have said that North Korea might time its next provocation to coincide with China’s Communist Party Congress which begins on October 18.