Aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan is starting drills with South Korean Navy

USS Ronald Reagan conducted a replenishment-at-sea with replenishment oiler USNS John Ericsson (T-AO 194) during drills with Japan Maritime Self Defense ships on October 9. Photo: US Navy

An anticipated maritime exercise between the US and Republic of Korea Navy is bound for kick off in three days in the East and West Sea.

Dubbed Maritime Counter Special Operations exercise (MCSOFEX), the drill will start on October 16 and run through October 26.

US Navy units taking in the exercise will be led by the forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan which is on a routine patrol in the US 7th Fleet area of operations. The carrier will be accompanied by Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Mustin and USS Stethem.

The exercise will also see the participation of ROK Air Force, U.S. Pacific Air Forces’ 7th Air Force and U.S. Eighth Army.

While the exercise is part of the carrier’s regular activities during patrols in the Indo-Asia-Pacific and another iteration of US and ROK Navy exercises (last year Ronald Reagan visited Busan on October 16), the upcoming drill is set to be interpreted as a show of force towards North Korea whose nuclear development continues to pose a threat for the region.

The carrier’s presence will be part of a broader response to the threat of North Korean nuclear missile tests. US B-1B strategic bombers are currently on the Korean Peninsula and are carrying out missile warning drills with Japan throughout October.

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