US, ROK hold first joint military exercise involving aircraft carrier

US, ROK hold first joint military exercise involving aircraft carrier

This file photo taken on April 26, 2017 shows ROK and US soldiers watching from an observation post during a joint live firing drill between the US and the ROK at the Seungjin Fire Training Field in Pocheon, 65 km northeast of Seoul. The Republic of Korea and the United States have staged their first combined military exercises involving an American aircraft carrier in more than four years, Seoul's military said on Saturday.

The three-day drills took place in international waters off the Japanese island of Okinawa until Saturday, including air defense, anti-ship, anti-submarine and maritime interdiction operations, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The USS Ronald Reagan, a 100,000 ton nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, joined the drills, along with the USS Antietam, the USS Benfold destroyer, and the Fleet replenishment oiler USNS Big Horn, the JCS said.

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The ROK also sent the 14,500 ton Marado amphibious landing ship, the 7,600 ton Sejong the Great Destroyer and the 4,400 ton Munmu the Great Destroyer, among others.

It was the allies' first joint military exercise since the ROK's President Yoon Suk-yeol took office last month, and their first bilateral exercises since November 2017 involving an aircraft carrier.

The exercise consolidated the two countries' determination to respond to any North Korean provocations, while showing the US commitment to provide extended deterrence, the JCS said in a statement. North Korea is also referred to as the DPRK.

The DPRK has criticized the US-ROK joint military drills as a rehearsal for war.