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The Republic of Korea and the United States staged their largest-ever live-fire drill on Friday amid lingering tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The one-day exercise in Pocheon, northeast of Seoul, involved some 2,000 troops along with jet fighters, tanks, Apache attack helicopters, missiles and multiple rocket launchers, the ROK defense ministry said.
In an official statement, the ministry said that the drill was aimed at checking solid military preparedness and war-fighting capabilities against enemy provocation.
Presided over by ROK Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik, the joint drill included an airborne early warning and control aircraft called "Peace Eye" and T/A-50 light attack aircraft for the first time.
The first stage of the drill at Pocheon, 35 kilometers from the border, aimed to practice a response to shooting and shelling attacks on the ROK's border outposts.
The second stage assumed an all-out attack by forces of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, reports said.
Apache helicopters and A-10 aircraft were to strafe assumed enemy positions and two multiple rocket launchers of the ROK would join in the attack.
The exercise was to end with a cargo plane dropping ammunition and food to friendly forces and 60 commandos parachuting onto enemy positions.
Tensions are high after the DPRK's failed rocket launch in April, seen by the US and its allies as an attempted ballistic missile test.
Pyongyang has also threatened attacks on the South's government and conservative media for perceived insults to its government.
On Thursday the US, the ROK and Japan began a separate two-day naval drill off the southern ROK island of Jeju, involving destroyers, supply ships and helicopters. Pyongyang denounced it as a "reckless provocation".
Washington and Seoul are also due on Saturday to launch a major three-day naval exercise in the waters off the west coast of the Korean Peninsula, ahead of the 62nd anniversary Monday of the outbreak of the Korean War.
The three drills in a row reflects Seoul's tense mindset and its urgent need to ally with Washington to add pressure on Pyongyang, said Zhang Liangui, an expert on Korean Peninsula studies at the Party School of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.
"The drills will further exacerbate tension in the Peninsula, yet Seoul and Washington also want to warn Pyongyang against taking any more military actions," Zhang said.
Saturday's bilateral joint naval exercise, conducted every year, was planned to include 10 ROK warships plus the USS George Washington aircraft carrier and striker group, 8,000 personnel and hundreds of combat aircraft, Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
Throughout the joint military exercises, the ROK and US forces "will test their ability for joint operations and enhance combat-readiness", ROK Navy Brigadier General Park Seong-bae said in a statement.