Training has resumed at the Rodriguez Live Fire Complex, just south of the heavily fortified demilitarized zone (DMZ) along the border, after being canceled in recent years when people living nearby complained of noise and trouble of security.
Over the past week, AH-64E Apache helicopters have participated in certification exercises, video footage and photographs released by the US 2nd Infantry Division showed.
“Crews qualify day or night on the AGM-114 Hellfire missile, Hydra 70 rocket and 30mm cannon,” the division said on Twitter.
The drills come as allies announced they would resume further field training in joint exercises that have been reduced for several years due to Covid-19 and efforts to reduce tensions with the North.
The Apache drills will also measure the level of noise they generate, in response to complaints, a Defense Department official said.
United States Forces Korea (USFK) did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The lack of live-fire training has been a “big problem” for US pilots and crews, a former senior US defense official said.
“They were less ready when they left (from South Korea) than when they arrived,” he told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss US military operations.
During the period without live-fire exercises, the Pentagon paid to send Apache crews back to the United States for qualification exercises every quarter, he added.
The problem escalated when the US military permanently stationed a previously rotating Apache unit in South Korea in February, he said.
Former South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s administration had no interest in overcoming political issues and resuming exercises, the former official said, predicting Yoon would likely make more progress.