South Korea's military demonstrated some of its major high-tech weapons at its headquarters in a central city Saturday on the occasion of the Armed Forces Day following a series of ballistic missile provocations by North Korea this week.
The defense ministry held an official ceremony marking the anniversary at the Gyeryongdae compound, 160 kilometers south of Seoul, under the theme of "strong defense, robust military based on science and technology."
That theme resonated throughout the annual event that opened hours after the North's firing of two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea -- the fourth such provocation in less than a week.
President Yoon Suk-yeol, Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup and top commanders of all armed services as well as rank-and-file soldiers and war veterans attended the event.
In the troop formations on the ground were elite forces at the vanguard of the Yoon administration's Defense Reform 4.0 initiative designed to make the military stronger and smarter based on cutting-edge technologies, like artificial intelligence.
Key weapons systems mobilized for the ceremony highlighted Seoul's push to beef up its so-called three-axis system to counter Pyongyang's evolving nuclear and missile threats.
The three-pronged system consists of the Kill Chain preemptive strike platform; the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation, a program to target an adversary's leadership in a contingency; and the Korea Air and Missile Defense system (KAMD).
To demonstrate Kill Chain capabilities, the military mobilized 230-mm Chunmoo multiple rocket launchers, ground-to-ground Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) ballistic missiles and Hyunmoo-II and III missiles.
KAMD assets on display were anti-artillery radar systems, unmanned aerial vehicles, Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC)-3 interception systems and other assets. The military also demonstrated K2 battle tanks, K9 self-propelled howitzers and assault amphibious vehicles.
The demonstration of these weapons drew keen attention from foreign buyers in a sign of South Korea's growing stature in the arms industry. Earlier this year, local companies signed massive contracts with Poland to supply K2 tanks, K9 howitzers and FA-50 light attack fighters.
In the air, a team consisting of dozens of South Korean and U.S. troops staged a high-altitude low opening parachute jump.
The South Korean military also showcased a series of its bedrock air assets, including F-35A radar-evading fighters; F-15K,
KF-16 and FA-50 jets; KC-330 tanker transport aircraft; and various helicopters, like Apache, Surion and Chinook choppers.
The U.S. Forces Korea also sent a set of core warplanes, including A-10 "tank killer" planes and F-16 fighters.
Those flybys were followed by a celebratory performance by the Air Force's Black Eagles aerobatic team.
Saturday's show of the country's military might came as Seoul is pushing to sharpen deterrence based on the South Korea-US alliance amid concerns that Pyongyang could ratchet up tensions through a nuclear test or other provocative acts. (Yonhap)