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US nuclear aircraft carrier Reagan to visit port of Busan

US nuclear aircraft carrier Reagan to visit port of Busan

Posted September. 19, 2022 07:33,   

Updated September. 19, 2022 07:33


With South Korea and the U.S. having agreed to strengthen deployment of U.S.’ strategic assets by resuming the operation of the Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group on Friday, the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG) will conduct a joint military drill with the South Korean Navy. It will be the first time in five years that a U.S. aircraft carrier will conduct a joint drill within the Korean Theater of Operations.

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, which will visit a naval base in the port of Busan later this week, consists of nuclear aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, USS Chancellorsville Guided Missile Cruiser, and Barry Aegis destroyer, among others. The USS Ronald Reagan carries more than 80 aircraft including F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-35C fighter jets and boasts of air force power stronger than that of many mid-size countries. When North Korea launched its sixth nuclear test in 2017, three aircraft carriers namely USS Ronald Reagan, USS Theodore Roosevelt, and USS Nimitz were deployed at waters around the Korean Peninsula and performed a show of force in collaboration with the South Korean Navy.

Analysts say the mobilization of the USS Ronald Reagan heralds the deployment of U.S. strategic assets in earnest by South Korea and the U.S. to deter Pyongyang’s seventh nuclear test and the boosting of their joint military drills. The two allies have already put in place scenarios not only on the types of strategic assets to be deployed but also their joint actions according to the type of Pyongyang’s provocations and are prepared to take immediate actions in line with the action plan. “My understanding is that the scenarios suggest that, in the event that North Korea dares to conduct a seventh unclear test, not only various strategic assets including strategic bombers and nuclear submarines can be deployed, but the South Korean and U.S. military leadership can issue a joint statement or board a strategic asset,” a source in the South Korean government said.

Amid this development, the U.S. Defense Department, in an unusual move, released on the day a photo of the fifth ALGLICO (Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company), which is stationed in Okinawa, Japan, conducting a joint drill with the South Korean Marines in South Korea.

The company, which is part of the U.S. Marines’ landing unit, will be deployed to the frontlines on the Korean Peninsula soon after the outbreak of a war and provided coordinates of targets for airstrikes and naval bombardments. ANGLICO has been conducting drills in the Korean Peninsula every year, but it is the first time in five years since 2017 that information on the conduct of a drill and photo thereof has been made public.

The Korean Marine Exercise Program (KMEP) drills, which were concluded Thursday, included South Korea-US joint tactical aviation control and short-distance air assist drills. The drills involved mobilization of the South Korea and U.S. Marines, South Korean fighter jets F-15K, FA-50 and F-5 and the US military’s C-130 transporters.

Kyu-Jin Shin newjin@donga.com