South Korea, the US and Japan will kick off a combined ballistic missile defence exercise in waters off Hawaii this week, amid their stepped-up security coordination against North Korea's "evolving military threats", a media outlet reported, citing sources.
The biennial Pacific Dragon exercise is scheduled to take place from Monday through August 14, according to the sources. In addition to the three countries, Australia and Canada will join the exercise in 2022's edition, Yonhap news agency reported.
Featuring the mobilisation of eight warships and two aircraft, the exercise is aimed at enhancing cooperation among the participating countries in detecting, tracking and reporting ballistic missile targets.
The exercise has been arranged as the defence chiefs of South Korea, the US and Japan agreed to reinforce their security coordination during their trilateral gathering on the margins of the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 11.
At the talks, the three agreed to conduct the South Korea-US-Japan missile warning, and ballistic missile search and tracking exercises. Since 2018, the trainings had proceeded in a low-key manner amid efforts to facilitate diplomacy with North Korea.
The three nations have recently been seen closing ranks amid concerns that the North could further "ratchet up tensions by conducting what would be its seventh nuclear test or other provocative acts".