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U.S. operates at least 22 reconnaissance planes over Korean Peninsula

U.S. operates at least 22 reconnaissance planes over Korean Peninsula

Posted December. 27, 2019 07:53,   

Updated December. 27, 2019 07:53


The U.S. is not relaxing its surveillance even after the “Christmas gift” deadline threatened by North Korea is passed. The country is carpet-bombing the Korean Peninsula with its reconnaissance resources.

The U.S. deployed its five main reconnaissance planes, such as E-8C Joint STARS, at once to the Korean Peninsula on Wednesday, which was followed by three more reconnaissance aircraft on Thursday to detect any new signs of North Korean provocations involving intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).

According to the Aircraft Spots, a combat aircraft tracking website, first Joint STARS and later two RC-135S Cobra Balls flew from the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa to the Korean Peninsula from early morning until afternoon on Thursday. In particular, Cobra Balls, which can track the trajectories of missiles and warheads, flew to the East Sea back to back. “The U.S. is keeping an eye on the submarines and SLBM base located in Wonsan, Gangwon Province and Sinpo, Hamgyong Province 24 hours a day,” said a South Korean military source. This implies the U.S.’ forecast that North Korea is more likely to launch SLBMs than ICBMs, which will remain as the last resort.

The amount of reconnaissance resources poured in by the U.S. following the “Christmas gift” threat of North Korea is believed to be unprecedented by both military and non-military experts. The U.S. deployed at least 22 reconnaissance planes of seven different models to the Korean Peninsula since Lee Tae Sung, the vice minister of the North’s foreign ministry in charge of the U.S. affairs, said “What the Christmas gift will be depends on the U.S.’ decision.”

“Almost all reconnaissance aircraft deployed to Northeast Asia are used to surveil North Korea,” said a military source. Given that 22 reconnaissance planes are the number intentionally released by the U.S. military through the Aircraft Spots, etc. to put pressure on North Korea, the actual figure including confidential reconnaissance activities must be higher.

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com