The US has approved a South Korean request for some $1.4 billion worth of PAC-3 Patriot missiles and associated equipment, as the US ally moves to build its own integrated BMD system by the 2020s. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced the approval of the sale last week, which covers a possible deal for 136 Patriot advanced capability PAC-3 missiles, two flight test targets, as well as a host of support equipment and services. The South Koreans require PAC-3 missiles to increase interoperability between their ground and sea-based missile defense forces and US forces, and to “effectively conduct and sustain (ballistic missile defense) operations,” according to the release. The PAC-3 missiles will serve as a core component to the South’s planned Korea Air Missile Defense program, and will decrease the country’s reliance on deployed US forces to support BMD efforts. Late last month, the US and the South agreed to broader intelligence and operational cooperation in the BMD mission, following the annual US-South Korea security consultative meeting in Washington, D.C.
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S. The bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.