Three warships of the US, South Korea, Japan carried out trilateral ballistic missile defence exercise just days after the recent North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test.

The defence drill was undertaken in the Sea of Japan on 22 February.

This trilateral exercise saw participation of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52), Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Atago-class guided missile destroyer JS Atago (DDG 177), and Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy’s destroyer ROKS Sejong the Great (DDG 991).

Besides bolstering the interoperability of the participating forces, the drill intended to strengthen the trilateral cooperation, and their commitment to uphold a free and open Indo-Pacific.

On 18 February, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea) test-fired a long-range ballistic missile Hwasong-15 ICBM, which is claimed to be capable of hitting targets in the US, reported The KoreaTimes.

On 19 February, the US carried out separate air exercises –  one with the Japanese and the other with South Korean air forces – to boost response capability in the event of any regional threat.

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The drill with Japan was carried out above the Sea of Japan, and saw the deployment of US Indo-Pacific Command’s (INDOPACOM) F-16 fighter jets and B-1 bomber aircraft, along with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) B-15 fighter aircraft.

The air training exercise between the US and South Korea saw participation of ROK Air Force’s F-35A, F-15K and F-16 fighters, and the USAF’s B-1B bombers.

On 20 February, DPRK fired two short-range ballistic missiles towards the East Sea with their strike ranges claimed to be about 340km and 390km.

Now the latest trilateral missile defense exercise has taken place for the first time after October 2022.

On 6 October 2022, a naval exercise was conducted that saw participation of ROKS Sejong the Great, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold, part of the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, and Japan’s destroyers JS Chokai and JS Ashigara.