Tag Archives: North Korea

In the waters to the west of the Korean Peninsula….a U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier conducts routine activity

The image in this post shows an EA-18G Growler from the “Shadowhawks” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 141 making an arrested landing on the flight deck of the USS George Washington (CVN 73).

George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, are forward-deployed to provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Months since the last threat message, Pyongyang has put its forces put on high alert after U.S. warships entered the South Korean port of Busan in preparation for a joint military exercise with Japan and South Korea’s forces.

Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Pyongyang regime, said the drills are a “bellicose attempt to escalate the situation on the Korean Peninsula […] by openly threatening it with nukes,” referring to the presence of USS Washington, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

Image credit: U.S. Navy

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U.S. WC-135C nuclear radiation sniffing plane spotted over Europe. En-route to Syria?

During the early hours on Aug. 28,  a WC-135C was spotted just to the South of the UK.

The aircraft was being refueled by a KC-135 tanker launched from RAF Mildenhall which met the “Sniffer” maybe out in the Atlantic.

The two WC-135 Constant Phoenix operated by the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron from Offutt Air Force Base, are an atmospheric collections aircraft used to detect the radioactive particles that result from a nuclear detonation.

They were deployed near North Korea in anticipation of Kim Jong Un rocket launches earlier this year.

The WC-135C Constant Phoenix is used to take air samples from possible nuclear explosions. The question is can it do the same for Chemical Weapons?

Someone speculates the aircraft carries sensor even capable to detect chemical substances down wind from the attack area days, or week after they were dispersed.

Another possibility is that the aircraft was either coming or going to monitor Fukushima radioactive leak.

But if it were to be on its way to either Japan or North Korea then it would be expected to route via Hawaii and fly over the Pacific rather than head east over the Atlantic.

Here’s the audio file of the aircraft arranging refueling with its tanker near Malta during its eastbound flight (you can download and hear the whole file on the LiveATC website where we downloaded the raw one).

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com


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North Korea’s military parade was a hoax: Pyongyang used fake missiles and military planes

As we have already explained, North Korea staged a huge parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War on Jul. 27.

Even if the traditional flypast, featured some unexpected and quite interesting, illegally supplied Hughes 500E helicopters, armed with AT-3 Sagger missiles, remained in the dark for 30 years, the parade was a sort-of hoax.

Indeed, it looks like the Il-76TD which appeared in a new camouflaged color scheme was borrowed by Air Koryo just to take part to the Victory Day celebrations with the other two cargo planes operated by the state-owned national flag carrier airline of North Korea in military colors.

You can see the three planes overflying Pyongyang in the following image.

Victory Day 1

Image AP via NationalPost

As reported by NKNews.org, immediately after performing the flyby strengthening the lines of the geriatric North Korean Air Force  the three Soviet-made cargo aircraft got the civil color scheme again. There are some images around the web showing the planes on their traditional white livery.

But even ballistic missiles said to be capable to hit targets in the Pacific and the Continental U.S., paraded through the streets of Pyongyang were probably nothing more than fakes.

NBC has recently published an interesting article with a photo analysis of a purported Hwasong-13 intercontinental ballistic missile. Close-ups images seems to highlight several weird details: first of the lack of retro rockets; then forward nozzles on the rocket bodies of two individual missiles placed in different positions; finally, a suspect “undulating skin” near the nosecone.

H/T to Miguel Vargas-Caba for the heads-up


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This is the first image of a North Korean militarized, camouflaged Il-76 cargo plane

It looks like some of North Korea‘s Il-76 cargo planes have been militarized and given an interesting camouflaged color scheme.

The image showing the Il-76TD the military camo (the first and, probably, only so far), whose source is unclear, was posted on El Hangar de TJ website.

Since Air Koryo operates three of these Soviet-made aircraft to carry cargo in China and Russia (provided all the examples ordered at the beginning of the 1990s are still serviceable), it is safe to believe the one depicted in the photograph is a civilian one belonging to the state-owned national flag carrier airline of North Korea.

IL-76 North Korea CAMO

Image credit: via El Hangar de TJ

During the recent flying parade over Pyongyang on Jul. 27, some Hughes 500E helicopters, armed with AT-3 Sagger missiles, emerged after 30 years in the dark.

These choppers were intended to infiltrate North Korean special forces into the South in case of war.

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North Korea’s (illegally supplied) armed Hughes 500E helicopters emerge after 30 years in the dark

On Jul. 27, North Korea staged a huge parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

Among the hardware that took part in the traditional flying parade, there were even a couple of Hughes 500E helicopters, armed with AT-3 Sagger missiles.

The North Korean “Little Birds” are an interesting addition to the display: since there were no images of them in North Korea, their presence in DPRK has long been considered a sort-of legend, even if the fact that they had been illegally supplied to Pyongyang was unveiled in the ’80s.

Most probably they didn’t fly a lot since they were delivered but during the 60th anniversary air parade, the light choppers flew quite low over the marching tanks, as if they were closely supporting ground operations.

DPRK 500E 2

AviationGraphic.com‘s Ugo Crisponi has drawn a rendering of the Hughes 500 helicopters in the North Korean Air Force markings.

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