By Lee Tae-hoon
Two U.S. Aegis-equipped destroyers will detect and trace North Korea's long-range missile to be launched between April 4 and 8, Yonhap News Agency reported Sunday.
USS John S. McCain and another U.S. Aegis destroyer that participated in the large-scale South Korea-U.S. Key Resolve exercise remain in the East Sea in response to the North's upcoming missile launch, a military source was quoted as telling Yonhap.
The 12-day command-post exercise, which involved 14,000 U.S. troops stationed outside the peninsula, ended Friday.
The two U.S. warships are ready to intercept what the Stalinist North claims a satellite if it is deemed to pose a threat, the source said.
Korean-American officer Jeffrey Kim commands the USS John S. McCain, whose four radars can detect any object within a radius of 1,000 kilometers, he said.
The 9,200-ton destroyer is also capable of shooting down the North's rocket with its SM-3 interceptor missiles, according to the source.
The SM-3s can fly at a speed of 9,600 kilometers per hour and hit missiles at up to 160 kilometers above the sea level.
Japan has also deployed its two Aegis destroyers equipped with SM-3 missiles in the East Sea ahead of the North's missile launch, sources said.