A U.S. Patriot missile battery in Japan has been brought to
South Korea for a joint exercise amid growing concerns about additional
provocations from North Korea, an official of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK)
The Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC)-3 interceptor unit of the U.S. Forces
Japan (USFJ), stationed at the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, arrived in Busan on
July 13 and is now participating in a drill with South Korean military in
Gunsan, North Jeolla Province.
The Patriot unit is made up of 120 troops, with a launch vehicle and radar.
It is the first time a Japan-based U.S. Patriot battery has been sent to South
"The PAC-3 unit is currently training with South Korean troops," the USFK
official told reporters. "The unit will return to Japan after completing the
training scheduled to last two weeks."
The training was to exercise dispatching the USFJ's air defense weapons as
quickly as possible in the event of an incident on the Korean Peninsula.
The detachment comes as North has been ratcheting up military tension by
claiming that it carried out a drill "under the simulated conditions of making
preemptive strikes at ports and airfields in the operational theater in South
Korea where the U.S. imperialists' nuclear war hardware is to be hurled."
The North made the remark Wednesday, a day after firing three short-range
ballistic missiles into the East Sea.
In photos released by the North on its state-run newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, the
impact areas of the missiles were waters around the port cities of Busan and
Ulsan, indicating that the regime exercised striking those cities.
The missile launch came amid increasing signs that Pyongyang may conduct a
fifth nuclear test soon ― increased activity at the Punggye-ri nuclear site
has been detected by the intelligence authorities of South Korea and the
Officials here noted that the North is likely to make provocations in the
coming weeks in an apparent show of protest against the planned deployment of
a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery on Korean soil.
Allies announced July 13 that the advanced anti-missile system will be
deployed in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province, next year.
At the time of the announcement, officials said the Patriot air defense system
will make up for the weak points of the THAAD whose range is not enough to
The THAAD interceptor has an effective range of 200 kilometers, while Seongju
is 210 kilometers southeast of Seoul.
Seoul is working to upgrade its PAC-2 systems deployed at units in the capital
and its surrounding area to the PAC-3 version by 2022, officials said.
The combat-proven PAC-3 missile is a high-velocity hit-to-kill interceptor
that destroys incoming ballistic and cruise missiles, and hostile aircraft by
direct impact. The PAC-2 uses a blast-fragmentation proximity warhead that
sends debris from an exploded missile into the target.