South Korea dispatched fighter jets after North Korean aircraft conducted an apparent mock bombing drill today, Seoul’s Defense Ministry said. Meanwhile, allied warships were conducting missile defense drills and Pyongyang fired the latest in a series of ballistic missiles.
The bombing drill by at least eight North Korean fighters and four bombers prompted the South to deploy 30 fighters. Warplanes were scrambled on both sides of the border amid rising tensions over a series of missile tests by Pyongyang.
Just an hour after condemning the repositioning of a U.S. aircraft carrier to the region, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea toward Japan on Thursday. North Korea has launched about 40 missiles this year, and appears poised to conduct its first nuclear test since 2017, officials in Seoul and Washington have said.
Thursday’s launches followed the return of the aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan, to waters off the Korean Peninsula. The missile launch was the sixth in 12 days and the first since North Korea fired an intermediate-range missile over Japan on Tuesday, prompting joint South Korean and U.S. missile drills.
“This is the sixth time in the short period, only counting those in late September,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said. “This absolutely cannot be tolerated.”
In a statement, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry condemned Washington for repositioning the U.S. aircraft carrier off the Korean peninsula, saying it posed a serious threat to the stability of the situation. The carrier strike group joined South Korean and Japanese destroyers in maritime missile defense training, the South Korean military said.
“This training focuses on mastering detection, tracking and interception procedures through shared target information under a scenario of North Korea conducting ballistic missile provocations,” the military said in a statement.