South Korea launches jets and fires after North flies drones – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s military fired warning shots, jammed fighter jets and flew surveillance assets over the heavily fortified North Korean border on Monday after North Korean drones violated its airspace for the first time in five years in a further escalation of tensions.

The South Korean military detected five drones coming from North Korea crossing the border, and one flew as far north as South Korea’s capital region, about an hour’s drive away, officials said. South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The military responded by firing warning shots and launching fighter jets and attack helicopters to shoot down North Korean drones. The attack helicopters fired a combined 100 rounds, but it was not immediately clear if any of the North Korean drones were shot down, according to the Defense Ministry.

There were no immediate reports of civilian casualties on the ground in South Korea. One of the North Korean drones returned to the North after three hours in South Korea, while the others disappeared from the radars of the South Korean military, the joint chiefs said.

The North Korean drones and swift response from the South came three days after the North fired two short-range ballistic missiles in the latest in a series of weapons tests this year. Friday’s launches were seen as a protest against joint South Korean and US air drills that North Korea views as a rehearsal for an invasion.

One of South Korea’s rushed fighter jets on Monday, a KA-1 light attack jet, crashed mid-flight but its two pilots ejected safely, defense officials said. They said they had also asked civilian airports in and around Seoul to temporarily halt takeoffs.

South Korea has also sent surveillance assets near and across the border to photograph key military installations in North Korea as part of corresponding measures against North Korean drone flights, the chiefs said. He did not elaborate, but some observers said South Korea likely flew unmanned drones inside North Korean territory.

“Our military will respond fully and resolutely to this kind of North Korean provocation,” Major General Lee Seung-o, director of operations for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters.

South Korea’s public confirmation of any reconnaissance activity inside North Korea is highly unusual and likely reflects the willingness of the conservative government under President Yoon Suk Yeol to crack down on North Korean provocations. North Korea could respond with more heated rhetoric or weapons tests or other provocations, some observers said.

This is the first time North Korean drones have entered South Korean airspace since 2017, when a suspected North Korean drone crashed in South Korea. South Korean military officials said at the time that the Sony-made drone equipped with a camera had photographed a US missile defense system in South Korea.

North Korea has announced its drone program and South Korean officials have previously said the North has 300 drones. In 2014, several suspected North Korean drones with Japanese-made cameras were found south of the border. Experts say they are low-tech but could be seen as a potential security threat.

A White House national security official said US officials were “consulting closely with (the Republic of Korea) on the nature of this incursion.”

“We recognize the Republic of Korea’s need to protect its territorial integrity,” said the official, who was not authorized to be identified and was commenting on condition of anonymity. “The United States’ commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea remains strong.”

Earlier this month, North Korea said it had conducted key tests needed to launch its first spy satellite and a more mobile intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the American mainland. They are part of the high-tech weapons systems that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has promised to introduce with multiple warheads, underwater-launched nuclear missiles, nuclear-powered submarines and missiles. hypersonic.

Kim also called for the development of reconnaissance drones capable of accurately monitoring up to 500 kilometers (310 miles) deep into enemy territory. In 2013, he witnessed a drone attack exercise on a simulated South Korean target, according to northern state media.

North Korea previously released low-resolution images of South Korean cities as seen from space, but some South Korean experts said the images were too coarse for surveillance purposes. Such assessments have angered North Korea, where Kim’s powerful sister Kim Yo Jong has released a series of derisive terms to insult anonymous South Korean experts and express her anger.

North Korea is set to hold a key conference of the ruling Workers’ Party this week to review past policies and set policy goals. Some experts say that during the meeting, North Korea is likely to reaffirm efforts to strengthen its nuclear and missile arsenals to counter what it calls hostile US policies, such as international sanctions imposed on the state. . United States and its regular military training in South Korea.

North Korea will eventually use its enhanced nuclear capability as a bargaining chip to win international recognition as a legitimate nuclear state, the relaxation of international sanctions and other concessions, analysts say.

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