US helicopters hold live-fire drills in South Korea
The training, which will last until July 29, is taking place at the Rodriguez Live Fire Complex.
The US Army Apache attack helicopters stationed in South Korea are conducting live-fire drills with guns and rockets, according to the US military.
The training, which will last until July 29, is taking place at the Rodriguez Live Fire Complex, close to the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea, according to the US 2nd Infantry Division.
The drills ensure that US aircrews "are qualified on their Apaches, maintain their proficiency on their helicopters, and are capable of executing their mission if called upon," as per a spokesperson.
According to local reports, the US military allegedly stopped using the Rodriguez Live Fire Complex in Pocheon in 2018 due to noise and safety concerns raised by local residents.
However, the two countries, long-time regional security allies, announced in May that they were looking to increase joint military exercises, which had been reduced due to Covid-19 and a period of failed diplomacy with the North.
This comes as South Korea's hawkish new President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office in May, has promised a tougher stance against Pyongyang, vowing to "normalize" joint military drills between the US and South Korea.
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According to images tweeted by the US 2nd Infantry Division, the US is using advanced AH-64E v6 Apache helicopters in the drills.
"5th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment and 4-2 Attack Battalion are conducting aerial gunnery, certifying their crews on AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, Hydra 70 rockets and 30mm canon," it said.
Six top-of-the-line F-35A fighters from the United States also arrived in the South earlier this month for a 10-day allied exercise that lasted until July 14.
It was the country's first public deployment of American stealth fighters since late 2017.
Last month, South Korea and the United States launched eight surface-to-surface missiles off South Korea's east coast early Monday, according to a South Korean defense ministry official.
Pyongyang routinely condemns joint military exercises between US and South Korean forces as rehearsals for an invasion.