US, South Korea, Japan Begin Missile Defense Exercises

On March 14, 2017, the United States, South Korea, and Japan began two days of drills in the Sea of Japan in order to better respond to a potential ballistic missile attack. The drills involve the guided-missile destroyers USS Curtis Wilber (DDG-54), ROKS Sejong the Great (DDG-991), and JDS Kirishima (DDG-174), three Aegis-equipped ships two of which are capable of intercepting ballistic missiles. According to the U.S. Navy 7th Fleet in Japan, “the exercise will employ tactical data link systems to trade communications, intelligence and other data among the ships in the exercise.” The drills come a week after North Korea test-launched four ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, prompting the United States to begin deployment of the THAAD battery to South Korea. China’s foreign ministry has expressed dissatisfaction with the situation, saying that “on the one hand, the DPRK insists on advancing its nuclear and missile programs in violation of UN Security Council resolutions; on the other hand, the US, the ROK, and Japan are conducting large-scale military exercises…. This is a vicious circle and an upward spiral of tensions. It will do no good to any country.”