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(LEAD) U.S. aircraft carrier Reagan due in Korea this month

2017/10/01 13:32

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(ATTN: UPDATES with USFK official's comments in paras 4-5)

SEOUL, Oct. 1 (Yonhap) -- The United States is expected to send the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), a forward-deployed aircraft carrier, to waters near the Korean Peninsula this month for a combined exercise with South Korea's Navy, a defense official here said Sunday.

"We are in consultations (with the U.S.) on a plan for the aircraft strike group led by the nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan to operate in the East Sea around Oct. 15," the official said on condition of anonymity.

The Reagan will likely be accompanied by several other warships belonging to the strike group, such as an Aegis destroyer, a guided-missile cruiser and a nuclear-powered submarine.

The two sides plan to conduct joint drills to detect, track and intercept the North's ballistic missiles in addition to anti-submarine warfare training, according to the official.

A U.S Forces Korea (USFK) official said no date of the Reagan's arrival has been fixed yet.

"It's likely to hold the combined training around Oct. 20. The exact schedule has not been set, depending on the conditions. And then it will likely make a port call in Busan," he said.

USS Ronald Reagan in a photo posted on the U.S. Navy's website (Yonhap) USS Ronald Reagan in a photo posted on the U.S. Navy's website (Yonhap)

The practice comes as military tensions have escalated on the peninsula over the North's recent provocations, although the official said the allies' planned naval operation has been prearranged.

Keen attention will be paid to whether the supercarrier will cross the inter-Korean sea border during the upcoming mission.

The U.S. flew a squadron of B-1B strategic bombers and fighter jets close to the North's east coast last weekend.

The 333-meter-long, 100,000-ton Nimitz-class flattop is stationed in Yokosuka, Japan, as part of the Seventh Fleet in charge of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

The Reagan has a deck the size of three football fields, with nearly 80 aircraft on board ranging from fighter jets to helicopters. It has a crew of 5,000.

lcd@yna.co.kr

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