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N. Korea launches 2nd ballistic missile as Japan, ROK, US forces drill together

Maritime Counter Special Operations Exercise (MCSOFEX) off South Korea
USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) sails with ROK Navy destroyer ROKS Munmu the Great (DDH 976), in waters east of the Korean peninsula on September 28, 2022. Photo: US Navy

North Korea has carried out a second ballistic missile launch in less than a week as forces from the US Navy, Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy, and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) prepare to carry out a trilateral anti-submarine warfare exercise in seas in the vicinity of Korea and Japan on Sept. 30.

North Korea’s second launch was first reported by Japan late Wednesday, while the South Korean military subsequently said the two missiles flew at speeds of up to Mach 6, reaching an apogee of around 30 km and travelling for about 360 km. North Korea launched the first ballistic missile on Sunday.

The latest launch took place as Japan, the US and South Korea prepare to launch trilateral operations.

The exercise will include the flagship of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5, USS Ronald Reagan, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (DDG 62), Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65), the JMSDF destroyer JS Asahi (DD 119), and the Republic of Korea Navy destroyer ROKS Munmu the Great (DDH 976).

The ships will operate with a US submarine to enhance interoperability in anti-submarine warfare. Liaison officers from each country will observe the exercise from each surface vessel participating.

The maneuver will build upon an earlier one undertaken between USS Ronald Reagan and ROK Navy after the carrier concluded its port visit to South Korea on September 26. That maneuver was joined by attack submarine USS Annapolis.

North Korea’s missile launch also preceded the arrival of US Vice President Kamala Harris to Seoul on September 29. Harris arrived in South Korea from Japan, for her visit to the country as vice president.