Three US supercarriers to conduct joint drills in waters off Korean peninsula

3 US aircraft carriers to enter waters off Korean Peninsula to stage joint drills: S.Korean military

The two nations began the four day naval exercise on Saturday as a reminder to North Korea they are committed 'to the security and stability of the region'.

South Korea and the United States on Saturday kicked off a joint naval exercise in the Sea of Japan involving three USA aircraft carriers amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The three flattops are the USS Ronald Reagan, Nimitz and Theodore Roosevelt.

The drills began in waters off South Korea's eastern coast.

Nuclear-armed North Korea regularly denounces such military drills as rehearsals for invasion and sometimes conducts its own military manoeuvres or missile tests in response.

"The participating forces of the two nations plan to enhance combined operation capability and interoperability through aircraft carrier escort operation, aviation operation and aerial firing", said the JCS.

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The Ministry of National Defense (MND) on Thursday confirmed to media that this will be the first time that the ROK and the US navies stage joint bilateral drills with the three aircraft carriers in waters off the east coast of the country.

The goal of the exercise was to demonstrate the U.S. Navy's ability to "operate multiple carrier strike groups as a coordinated strike force efforts", the navy said, adding that the three carrier strike groups will conduct training including "air defense drills, sea surveillance, replenishment at sea, defensive air combat training, close-in coordinated maneuver". U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Scott Swift described the training as a "rare opportunity".

The exercises come on the heels of US President Donald Trump's visit to Seoul and Beijing this week, with the North's nuclear and missile threats looming large.

At a summit in Seoul Tuesday, Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-In agreed to increase the deployment of United States military assets around the Korean peninsula to step up pressure on the North.

China hit the jackpot in three major ways in its recent agreement to mend ties with South Korea over the latter's deployment of a US THAAD antimissile system, according to 38 North, a respected specialist website on North Korea.

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