US deploys additional Patriot missile systems to S Korea

SEOUL, Feb. 13 (MNA) – The United States has deployed additional Patriot missile systems to South Korea as part of an effort to counter North Korea's latest provocations, United States Forces Korea (USFK) said Saturday.

The USFK headquarters in Seoul said it has been working closely with the South Korean government in regards to the deployment of the missiles and that the stationing of its assets is part of an emergency readiness exercise being carried out in response to Pyongyang's recent launching of long-range missiles.

The isolationist country fired off a missile, which can target the United States, on Sunday. This launch came after it detonated its fourth nuclear device on Jan. 6.

The Patriot missiles from D Battery of the 1-43 Air Defense Artillery unit stationed at Fort Bliss in Texas have joined up with two existing batteries in Osan Air Base to carry out anti-missile defensive drills.

The 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade in Osan, some 55 kilometers south of the capital city, has 96 PAC-2 and PAC-3 Patriot missiles.

"The South Korea-US Alliance is mission focused on the real threat from North Korea,” said Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal, Commanding General of Eighth Army. "North Korea’s continued development of ballistic missiles against the expressed will of the international community requires the Alliance to maintain effective and ready ballistic missile defenses. Exercises like this ensure we are always ready to defend against an attack from North Korea."

The Patriot missiles, with a top speed of upwards to Mach 5, can reach an altitude of 40 kilometers. They can be used to intercept North Korea's short-range KN-01 and KN-02 missiles as well as the longer range Scud and Rodong systems that can target all of South Korea.

The USFK said that D Battery will not be stationed indefinitely in South Korea but be rotated every six months.

Military authorities also said that the newly deployed missiles will be used to better integrate the missile defense posture of South Korea and the United States. This close cooperation can boost joint capabilities aimed at defending against, detecting and destroying North Korean missile threats.

Some observers said the latest unit deployed is part of the larger 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, which operates the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), that the United States wants to station on the Korean Peninsula.

Meanwhile, South Korea's ruling Saenuri Party, welcomed the deployment as a move that can bolster the country's defense posture.

"The Patriot missiles can enhance the military readiness of South Korea and the United States," said Rep. Lee Jang-woo.

On the other hand, the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea expressed concerns that the missile could further spike up tensions, although it refrained from making a formal announcement.

It added that the party wants the standoff triggered by the North's provocation to be resolved as soon as possible so the state of the country can return to normal.

 

YNA/MNA

 

News Code 114396

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