The United States has been deploying its reconnaissance aircrafts tasked with monitoring North Korea’s military moves, as the North has ratcheted up tensions ahead of the new year by holding a multi-day plenary meeting of the Central Committee of its ruling Workers’ Party.
The U.S. RC-135W Ribet Joint, equipped with advanced electronic sensors capable of sensing signals related to preparation for missile launches, flew over the Korean peninsula on Monday, according to Aircraft Spots.
It has been also revealed Monday that an E-8C nicknamed JSTARS flew in skies above the Korean peninsula on Sunday. The reconnaissance plane is capable of closely monitoring the North’s equipment movements including those of the transporter erector launcher (TEL) vehicles at more than 250 kilometers.
With an RC-135S Cobra Ball, which had been deployed for five consecutive days from last Tuesday, not spotted over the peninsula on Sunday, there was speculation that the United States started to scale down its operation for monitoring. According to the report, however, Washington kept its monitoring during the weekend as well.
Though the North refrained itself from carrying out another provocation around the Christmas holiday, the United States is expected to further strengthen its monitoring as the North Korean regime may resume test-firing after its leader Kim Jong Un delivers a New Year’s Day address. Washington is also likely to fly its reconnaissance planes more frequently in the new year as Pyongyang may test-launch projectiles including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) around next Wednesday, the birthday of Kim Jong Un, or Feb. 7, the birthday of Kim Jong Il.
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