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Japan, South Korea, US flex BMD capabilities in wake of Pyongyang's missile test

JS Atago , USS Benfold , and ROKS Yulgok Yi I are seen here conducting a trilateral BMD exercise in the Sea of Japan (East Sea). (JMSDF)

The navies of Japan, South Korea, and the US have carried out another trilateral ballistic missile defence (BMD) exercise, in the wake of North Korea's latest missile test.

The BMD exercise was carried out on 17 April by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's (JMSDF's) lead Atago-class destroyer, the Republic of Korea Navy's (RoKN's) second Sejong Daewang (KDX-III)-class destroyer ROKS Yulgok Yi I , and the US Navy's (USN's) Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Benfold .

“This exercise enhances the interoperability of our collective forces and demonstrates the strength of the trilateral relationship with our Japan and Republic of Korea allies,” reads a statement released by the US Seventh Fleet on 17 April.

A JMSDF statement released on the same day added that the exercise “was conducted to practice connecting networks among each Aegis warships and sharing information of ballistic missiles. Through the exercise, we improved our tactical capabilities and joint response capabilities for ballistic missiles”.

The JMSDF statement also highlighted “repeated ballistic missile launches” from North Korea as a factor that has led to the trilateral drills. “The exercise is to protect shared security and prosperity, bolster rules-based international order, and demonstrate strong intention of three countries to commit to promote further trilateral co-operation and interoperability so as to respond to regional security challenges amid an increasingly severe security environment surrounding Japan,” the service added.

In October 2022, the three countries carried out a similar trilateral BMD exercise after North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) over Japan.

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