The US Army’s AH-64E v6 Apache attack helicopters, stationed in South Korea, have conducted drills in the Asian country.
In a Twitter post, the US 2nd Infantry Division said: “5th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment and 4-2 Attack Battalion are conducting aerial gunnery, certifying their crews on AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, Hydra 70 rockets and 30mm canon.
“Both units are using the latest AH-64E v6 Apache helicopter.”
Previously conducted in 2019, the live-fire drills are being held following South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s decision to ‘normalise’ joint drills to strengthen the country’s capabilities, reported Reuters.
The US and South Korea have also decided to resume other live field training as part of the joint exercises.
The latest live-fire exercises are being held at the Rodriguez Live Fire Complex near the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ).
The AH-64E Apache helicopters, set to replace the Apache MK1, are equipped with improved sensors and avionics.
The joint exercises were previously cancelled, owing to Covid-19 and to ease tension with North Korea.
A former senior US defence official told the news agency that the cancelled live-fire training posed a ‘big problem’ for the US pilots and crews.
The former official said: “They were less ready by the time they left [South Korea] than when they arrived.”
During this period, the government paid to send Apache crews back to the US for qualification exercises every quarter, the official added.
In October 2020, the US and South Korea agreed to strengthen their defence cooperation.