The United States plans to deploy 24 Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to a base in South Korea by early February to help Seoul counter threats from Pyongyang, local media said on the 9th of January.
All 24 helicopters will be deployed at Camp Humphreys when construction work in complete at the base in October, The Defense Ministry's US division head Kim Sung-min was quoted as saying by the agency.
"The Apache helicopter battalion will be stationed at Camp Humphreys, and part of the unit will be temporarily deployed to Suwon Air Base until the new aircraft parking apron is complete at CP Humphreys," US Army Col. Rob Manning said at a briefing at the South Korean Defense Ministry, as quoted by the Yonhap news agency.
According to the media, the United States Forces Korea (USFK) and the South Korean Defense Ministry had stated the helicopters would replace several dozen Bell OH-58 Kiowa observation and reconnaissance helicopters currently in USFK service on the Korean peninsula.
The US side stressed its commitment to ensuring South Korea's security and boosting joint defenses.
"The rotational deployment of the Apache helicopters is a demonstration of strong US will in implementing its security commitments and will significantly strengthen the ROK-US combined defense posture and capabilities," Manning said.
The Apache is a helicopter constructed to survive heavy attack and is armed to inflict massive damage on ground forces. It is designed to operate day or night, including in unfavorable weather and poor visibility.
The situation on the Korean peninsula has become more heated over recent months, with North Korea escalating its ballistic missile and nuclear tests and the United States ramping up its military presence in South Korea.
In July, Seoul and Washington agreed to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea's Seongju County. The THAAD system is designed to intercept short, medium and intermediate ballistic missiles at the terminal incoming stage. The move has been criticized by neighboring China and Russia as inappropriate, possibly disproportionate and affecting other countries' interests.