Thousands of troops have descended on Scotland to practice shooting down nuclear missiles in a major NATO exercise.
As the standoff with North Korea intensifies and the US considers its means of intercepting inbound warheads, the UK is hosting NATO troops in the huge drills. Fighter jets, ships and thousands of troops are taking part.
“North Korean tests have shown the danger of rogue states developing longer-range missiles,” said British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon in a statement.
“By hosting this cutting-edge exercise in anti-missile defense with allied navies, Britain is at the forefront of developing a more effective response to this growing threat.”
The US-led allied air and missile defense exercise, known as Formidable Shield, is underway at the Hebrides Range in the Western Isles.
It is the first time this kind of exercise has been held in Europe.
US troops are leading the forces, involving soldiers from Canada, Italy, Germany, France, Spain and the Netherlands.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has called Formidable Shield, which is running from September 21 to October 18, “one of the most sophisticated and complex air and missile exercises ever undertaken in the UK.”
Fourteen ships will be involved in the operations, including a Royal Navy Type 45 Destroyer and two Type 23 frigates.
Along with 10 aircraft and thousands of troops, live anti-ship and ballistic missiles will be hunted and destroyed to prepare for tactics deployed by rogue states.
Pyongyang has fired two ballistic missiles over Japan in the past month.
Kim Jong-un’s insular regime has also threatened the US territory of Guam and insisted it could hit the mainland US with a missile.
The nation has reportedly made major advances towards the creation of missiles able to deliver nuclear warheads.
The North Korean leadership accused US President Donald Trump of “declaring war” when he rebuked Pyongyang in a speech at the United Nations in New York.
NATO’s missile defense mechanism is spread across Europe, with an early warning radar in Turkey, the ‘Aegis’ missile defense system in Spain, and a land-based system in Romania known as ‘Aegis Ashore.’
Formidable Shield overlaps with operation Joint Warrior, which begins in early October.