A special reconnaissance plane of the U.S. Air Force had a patrol flight over the skies of the Greater Seoul region including the South Korean capital two days after North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun published on Wednesday a photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un riding a white horse on Mount Baekdu. Watchers say the move indicate that the U.S. could have detected specific signs of the North’s provocations including firing of additional Bukguksong-3 submarine launched ballistic missiles after the collapse of working-level talks between Washington and Pyongyang for the North’s denuclearization.
According to “Aircraft Spot,” a military aircraft tracking site, an RC-135W (Rivet Joint) reconnaissance aircraft took a flight from east to west and vice versa over the skies of the Greater Seoul region including Seoul (at an altitude of about 9.5 kilometers) along the inter-Korean demilitarized zone on Friday morning. The plane took off from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan and flew into the Korean Peninsula through the skies over the Yellow Sea to conduct a reconnaissance flight mission against the North.
The main mission of the Rivet Joint is to gather and analyze SIGINT signals using high-tech electronic sensors. The aircraft is capable of detecting electronic signals and radio communications related to missile launches across the entire North Korean territory even from the southern part of the demilitarized zone.
When Pyongyang blamed Washington for the failure of the working-level talks and threatened possible launch of its intercontinental ballistic missiles last week, U.S. reconnaissance planes including the J-STARS and the RC-135S Cobra Ball were also rapidly deployed over the Korean Peninsula, strongly boosting surveillance over the North. “Washington judges that Kim Jong Un’s white horse riding may signal looming acts of provocations, and thus is tightening its surveillance over the North,” a source in the South Korean military said.
Sang-Ho Yun email@example.com