Two South Korean Army’s AH-64E Apache attack helicopters made their public debut during a live-firing exercise along with US M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) at a training range in Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province.
The live-fire drill featured around 30 fighter jets, 90 battle tanks and armored vehicles, 30 choppers and 100 heavy guns, Yonhap reported quoting the Ministry of National Defense Wednesday.
The two Apache choppers are part of the 36 helicopters South Korea bought in January this year. These helicopters are organized into two battalions of the Army Air Operations Command. The helicopters are armed with indigenous K-239 Chunmoo artillery rocket system, known as K-MLRS.
The two AH-64E Guardians, supported by six AH-1S Cobra copters, pounded targets about 1.2 kilometers ahead with rockets and ammunition, although more powerful Hellfire missiles were not used.
Four US M1A2 Bradley fighting vehicles fired rounds down mountain roads. They were followed by firing the US M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), according to the reports.
The 45-minute war games-style live-firing exercise came amid increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula, with the Kim Jong-un regime racheting up military threats and the Trump administration taking a tough line against Pyongyang.
The North had its own massive live-fire artillery drill Tuesday in the vicinity of the eastern border with the South, commemorating the founding anniversary of its armed forces.
Earlier this month, the North showed off its major weaponry in a parade in Pyongyang presided over by leader Kim Jong-un.
The exercise of South Korea and the US opened under a scenario of North blitzkrieg attacks on five South Korean guard posts.
It took place at Seungjin Fire Training Field in Pocheon, some 30 kilometers south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas technically still at war.
South Korean K-55 and K-9 155-mm self-propelled howitzers, together with its 130-mm multiple rocket launchers, were the first to respond.
After that, three F-15K and three FA-50 fighters dropped bombs at mock enemy missile bases detected by drones and RF-16 reconnaissance aircraft.
The next victims were mock Northern mechanized units.
Four A-10 Thunderbolt attack planes and four AH-64D Apache Longbows of the US military, both nicknamed "tank-killers," bombarded tank-shaped targets on hillsides with live rounds, joined by K-2 Black Panther and K1A2 battle tanks on the ground, witnessed from a distance by Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn and Defense Minister Han Min-koo.
The allied forces were also quick in launching a simulated mechanized assault deep into North Korea's territory. Hovering above the training ground, it marked the first time for the helicopters live-fire practice to be shown to the public.
US Forces Korea has also deployed 38 AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters on the peninsula.