S. Korea to stage large-scale military parade in Seoul for 1st time in decade

South Korea will stage a large-scale military parade in central Seoul later this month for the first time in a decade, featuring tanks, fighter jets and other advanced assets, to mark the 75th founding anniversary of the country's armed forces, defense officials said Wednesday.

Some 4,000 troops and over 170 pieces of military equipment, including K2 battle tanks, the country's new "high-power" missile, and attack drones, will parade from Sungnyemun Gate to Gwanghwamun Square on Sept. 26 to commemorate the landmark anniversary, according to the officials.

This year's event will proceed under the theme of "strong military, strong security, and peace through strength" to demonstrate the military's resolve to defend the country, with a focus on sending a message to North Korea against provocations, one of the officials said.

The country has usually held a military parade every five years in time for Armed Forces Day on Oct. 1 but such a parade was last staged in 2013. The event did not take place under the preceding Moon Jae-in government, which pushed for inter-Korean reconciliation.

During the parade, the Air Force's Black Eagles aerobatic team and Apache attack helicopters will stage flights over the troops, while the public will be able to join the march in its final section.

Over 300 combat troops from the Eighth U.S. Army, under the U.S. Forces Korea, will also take part in the parade for the first time in a show of the combined defense posture as the two countries mark the 70th anniversary of their alliance this year.

The ministry also plans to hold a commemorative ceremony earlier in the day at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, just south of Seoul, to be attended by some 10,000 people, including foreign veterans of the Korean War and their family members.

Homegrown weapons systems, including the KF-21 fighter jet under development, the long-range surface-to-air missile, as well as surveillance and strike drones of the Drone Operations Command established earlier this month, will be on display.

The event is also set to feature a large-scale formation flight by over 100 aircraft, including a KF-21 jet, F-35A stealth fighters and the country's Light-Armed Helicopters. The U.S. military will also send seven aircraft, including F-16, A-10 and F-35 jets.

Some 200 South Korean and U.S. troops will also stage parachute drops at the air base to demonstrate combined operational capabilities.

Source: Yonhap News Agency