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U.S. Army to deploy 30 OH-58D helicopters back to S. Korea

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, Sept. 5 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. Army will deploy an air cavalry squadron made up of 30 OH-58D armed reconnaissance helicopters to South Korea next month after the choppers complete a five-year mission in Iraq, the Combined Forces Command (CFC) said Thursday.

The 4th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington will be deployed to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, just south of Seoul, on Oct. 1, the CFC said.

Redeployment of the helicopters comes after they completed combat missions in Iraq from 2008-2013.

The squadron, which is comprised of about 380 soldiers and 30 OH-59D Kiowa Warrior helicopters, will rejoin the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade to support South Korea and U.S. forces here, it said.

The OH-58D is an upgrade of the OH-58 Kiowa reconnaissance helicopter, capable of carrying AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, Hydra-70 rocket pods, air-to-air Stinger missiles and an M296 12.7 mm heavy machine gun. The light chopper is generally used as a scouting platform for attack helicopters such as the Apache and the Cobra.

"This action supports the U.S. defense commitment to the Republic of Korea as specified by the mutual defense treaty and presidential agreements," the U.S. Army said in a release. "The squadron's return to Korea will bring the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade back to full strength."

The U.S. forces will return to their unit after a nine-month stint, while the choppers will remain in the nation, it said.

About 28,500 U.S. soldiers are stationed in South Korea as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

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