North Korean hereditary dictator Kim Jong-un oversaw attack drills carried out by Pyongyang’s “superprecision drone planes,” according to state media Wednesday. Experts have a caveat to the report: North Korea has no remotely piloted drone aircraft.
Mr. Kim, the third generation of his family to lead the crumbling and hermetic communist state, “guided a drill of superprecision drone planes assaulting targets and a firing drill of self-propelled flak rockets destroying ‘enemy’ cruise missile coming in [to] attack [at] low altitude,” according to Korea Central News Agency.
“Despite what’s claimed in the KCNA story, there’s never been any evidence [North Korea] has operational drones,” tweeted Steve Herman, Voice of America’s North Asia bureau chief, a few minutes after the agency’s report.
In February last year, citing unnamed intelligence sources, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that North Korea had bought U.S.-made MQM-107 Streaker target drones from a Middle Eastern country and was seeking to develop them into an unmanned attack aircraft program.
But commentators at the time pointed out that the Streaker was 1970’s-era pre-programmable flight technology completely unlike modern, remotely piloted unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
“At the very best, North Korea now possesses a very unwieldy, inaccurate, subsonic cruise missile, in limited numbers, that is slightly better equipped technology-wise than a German WWII-era V-1 Buzz Bomb,” wrote Asia Security Watch analyst Craig Scanlan.
KCNA said the drones, which were not pictured in the report, “after making long-range flight as planned … headed toward ‘enemy positions’ and stormed the targets, destroying them with accuracy.”
Mr. Kim, who was pictured watching the exercise through binoculars, “said that the planes are very fast and have high target discerning ability,” KCNA reported, adding that the drones had been “assigned the flight route and time with targets in South Korea in mind.”
The drone exercise was followed by a demonstration of North Korean self-propelled anti-aircraft batteries, which successfully destroyed “a target disguised as Tomahawk cruise missile of the enemy,” according to the agency.
“An outburst of fire with roaring blast flew toward the missile, destroying it at a single shot,” the agency reported.
“When the drills turn into a battle, the enemies will be made to drink a bitter cup, unable to raise their heads,” Mr. Kim said, “stressing the need to destroy the enemies without mercy so that not a single man can survive to sign a document of surrender.”
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Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...
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