SEOUL, South Korea ( Associated Press) – South Korea held a large-scale military drill on Thursday simulating a drone shootdown as a measure to bolster its preparedness against North Korea’s provocations. First time in five years.
South Korean warplanes and helicopters failed to shoot down any of five North Korean drones seen south of the border on Monday before they either went home or disappeared from South Korean radar. One of them made it as far north as Seoul. This sparked concern among the South Korean population, for which the military publicly apologized on Tuesday.
The training on Thursday saw activity from ground-based anti-aircraft weapons, drones posing as enemy drones and a total of 20 fighter jets, attack helicopters and unmanned assets. Although there was no live fire, they were the country’s first major anti-drone drills since 2017, according to military officials.
The joint chiefs of staff said in a statement that the exercise near Seoul sets up different scenarios of border intrusion by small enemy drones, under which South Korean military assets are mobilized to learn how they can detect, track and can kill them.
On Thursday, South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol reiterated his willingness to strengthen anti-aircraft defenses and act tough in the face of North Korean provocations. The North Korean drone flights came after a record number of missile tests this year, which some experts say is part of an effort to pressure the United States and its allies into making some concessions, such as sanctions relief.
“Whether they have nuclear weapons or any weapons of mass destruction, we must send a clear message to those who repel provocations. We should not be afraid (of their nuclear weapons) and we should not hesitate,” Yoon said during a visit to a weapons development agency. “To achieve peace, we must prepare for a war that (we can win) are) in large quantities.”