The US Forces Korea will deploy 24 Apache attack helicopters in South Korea starting from this month.
The 24 AH-64D Apache heavy attack helicopters will replace the 30 OH-58D Kiowa Warrior observation and light attack choppers currently deployed on the Korean Peninsula, said the USFK in a joint statement Monday with the Ministry of National Defense, The Korea Herald reports.
“(The deployment) is demonstration of strong US will in implementing its security commitments and will significantly strengthen the ROK-US combined defense posture and capabilities,” said US Army Col. Rob Manning during the press briefing at the Defense Ministry.
Military officials expect that the helicopters will play a significant role in neutralizing North Korea’s tanks and hovercraft -- crucial assets to its special warfare. They can carry 16 air-to-ground precision anti-armor Hellfire missiles, 76 70-millimeter rockets and 30-mm machine gun that can shoot some 1200 rounds.
“The decision is a part of our efforts to beef up the USFK force’s capability as we face escalating cross-border tension,” said Kim Sung-min, Col. Manning’s counterpart who works as a director of the US policy division at the Defense Ministry.
The helicopters will be sent to Korea from Wednesday to Friday and military personnel operating the choppers are scheduled to arrive afterwards, it added. The whole deployment process is expected to be finished by early February.
This deployment will raise the number of Apache helicopters deployed by both Korean and US forces to 84.