DPRK holds drills with 12 fighter jets in response to South Korea
Tokyo's research center says that Soviet MiG fighter jets were possibly used in the drills as a response to the US-Japan-South Korea military exercises.
Thursday afternoon witnessed a dozen North Korean jets conducting a firing drill after the DPRK’s launch of two short-range ballistic missiles earlier in the day, according to South Korea’s military source to NK News.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said that eight North Korean fighter jets and four bombers flew in formation north of the inter-Korean air border for about an hour, seemingly carrying out air-to-surface firing exercises, adding that some of the DPRK warplanes violated South Korea’s “special reconnaissance line", which purposes to the north of an agreed inter-Korean airspace buffer zone outlined in the 2018 inter-Korean military agreement on both sides of the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) dividing the Koreas.
The South Korean military sent what it labeled as an “overwhelming” response with 30 aircraft that included F-15K fighter jets, but there were no specifications regarding their proximity and location to the North Korean formation.
However, Yonhap News Agency, without citing a source, denied that the DPRK warplanes breached the buffer zone that would have called for “tactical measures” from Seoul. The military also allegedly relayed to Yonhap that North Korean formation flights are rare and had not been seen in the past year, and it remains ambiguous if the DPRK jet activities and the South Korean response took place earlier but went unpublicized.
It is worth mentioning that Washington has approximately 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea, escalating the tension in the heated region.
Pyong Yang launched two ballistic missiles into the East Sea on Thursday, which marked the sixth DPRK missile test event in the last two weeks following its launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) over Japan into the Pacific Ocean two days earlier which according to experts and the NK Pro Missile Tracker is its longest missile test ever.
In light of Tuesday's test, the US and South Korean fighter jets conducted an attack-flight training whereby a South Korean F-15K jet dropped “precision” bombs on a fake target, and that evening, six missiles were fired into the East Sea but one failed while carrying a warhead.
The navies pertaining to the US, South Korea, and Japan also executed joint missile defense training on Thursday, which according to US Indo-Pacific Command, featured destroyers from each of the three nations and notably from the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group.
The US aircraft carrier, after having just visited South Korea for anti-submarine drills with ROK and Japanese forces last week, made an unusual return to waters east of the peninsula on Wednesday as an attempt to “strengthen the readiness posture of the ROK-U.S. alliance,” the JCS said.