South Korea on Tuesday conducted its first live-fire drill for an advanced air-launched cruise missile, strengthening Seoul’s preemptive strike capability in the face of increased aggression from North Korea — which mocked the live-fire test as the work of a “puppet army.”
The drill involved an F-15 fighter jet firing a Taurus missile that traveled through obstacles at low altitudes until it hit a target off South Korea’s western coast, the country’s military said Wednesday. Seoul’s Defense Ministry added the missile, manufactured by Germany’s Taurus Systems, has a maximum range of 310 miles, meaning it could hit North Korean targets before being detected by radar.
The latest drill is part of South Korea’s attempt to ramp up its capability against its volatile neighbor – which conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test Sept. 3. North Korea claimed it detonated a hydrogen bomb, but experts and the U.S. government have yet to confirm what the device was.
South Korea confirmed Wednesday it had detected traces of radioactive xenon gas from the nuclear test, but the type of nuclear device that was set off remained mysterious, Reuters reported.
North Korea on Wednesday also unleashed its nearly-daily series of bombastic threats against South Korea and the U.S., the latest missive coming two days after the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved fresh sanctions against Pyongyang. The state-run Korean Central News Agency slammed Seoul’s agreement with Washington to remove warhead weight limits on South Korean ballistic missiles — which allows the projectiles to fly a farther distance — saying the U.S. practice of working with the “South Korea puppet army” reminded North Koreans of “a rabid dog startled by a thunder.”