Tag Archives: North Korea

[Simulation] Here's what North Korea's missile launch might look like

Based on publicly available stuff, Analytical Graphics has produced a computer simulation showing North Korean Unha-3 long-range rocket’s possible path, tracking assets and landing zone.

As highlighted by North Korea Tech website:

The simulation lacks of the most recent theories on the precise launch path, such as a slight dog-leg turn in the trajectory of the satellite when the third stage separates, but that’s not too important.

Take a look and you’ll have a good feel for the path of the rocket and how the first and second stages will drop into the ocean.

As already explained, the rocket will be tracked by Japanese Aegis destroyers dispatched under the air cover provided by Japanese F-15J, that will have to take care of Russian and Chinese spyplanes.

Japan worried about Russian and Chinese intelligence-gathering planes during North Korean missile launch

More than the anticipated North Korea’s missile route over East China Sea, what seems to worry a lot the Japan Defense Ministry is the possibility that its ships fitted Long Range Surveillance and Tracking (LRST) systems, deployed to monitor the launch, could be approached by Russian or Chinese intelligence-gathering aircraft.

According to the Daily Yomiuri online, the ministry will use its Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers, equipped with Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, to track the missile as it will skirt the Japanese islands of Miyakojima, Ishigakijima and Okinawa (where a large U.S. airbase, Kadena, is located).

Two vessels will be deployed in the East China Sea, while another one will cruise in the Sea of Japan.

Since these Japanese vessels, with Ballistic Missile Defense capabilities similar to those of the U.S. Navy Ticonderoga class cruisers and Arleigh Burke class destroyers equipped with LRST systems, will have their radar sensors pointed towards the missile, they could remain partially defenseless, with their crews concentrating on missile’s detection and tracking.

The Japanese MoD fears that Russia and China’s spyplane could exploit the opportunity to come close to the JMSDF ships, to try to gather some interesting data about the way these vessels are equipped or operate.

For this reason F-15J fighters will provide cover to the Aegis destroyers, patrolling the nearby airspace and intercept any enemy plane with suspect behaviour.

The F-15Js will be deployed under a provision prescribed in the Self-Defense Forces Law’s Article 95, that stipulates that the SDF can use weapons, aircraft and other equipment to defend their planes, ships and other equipment.

As highlighted by the Daily Yomiuri article this will be the first application of the provision.

Surely Naha, located on the Okinawa island, will be the main operating base of the F-15. However such operation, involving two planes, spares, aerial refuelers and various support assets, will probably involve other airbases whose QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) cells could be kept in a heighned readiness status, such as Nyutabaru, Tsuiki and Chitose, in the north of the country.

The Daily Yomiuri article suggests that spyplanes approaching within about 36 km of a Japanese vessel will be issued a warning to prevent futher approach even if the Ministry of Defense could have issued new, specific Rules Of Engagement, allowing the F-15Js to fire warning shots if aircraft ignore the warnings.

To be honest I think that in most cases warning shorts are considered useless as nobody would see them, but I might be wrong. For sure intercept procedures foresee that the intercepted plane complies with the fighter instructions. If it doesn’t it will be shot down.

Even if Russian strategic bombers, reconnaissance planes and AWACS skirt Japanese islands (and get photographed) during long range patrol flights quite often, such special measures to protect the Aegis ships seems a bit exagerated.

Two Russian Il-38 reconnaissance planes have been intercepted in the last days. Many spyplanes (including U.S. one) will be probably wandering in international airspace in the next 24 – 48 hours, but their main interest will be the North Korean missile.

Unless the Japanese destroyers have been equipped with new equipment that has to be kept secret. Otherwise, I would concentrate my force in detecting and tracking the missile and shoot it down if it gets too close.

52-8850 a Japanese built F-15J of 304 Hikotai

Image credit: Jerry Gunner/Flickr

B-1s and F-22s involved in a long range strike exercise. Getting ready for North Korea or Iran?

U.S. F-22s, along with E-3s, F-16s, KC-135 and B-1s took part on Apr. 4, 2012, to an exercise aimed at validating Bones capability to successfully perform long range strike missions similar to one conducted in Libya in the early stages of Operation Odyssey Dawn.

Dubbed Operation Chimichanga, the exercise saw three B-1 bombers from the 37th Bomb Squadron flying from Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, to Fort Yukon, Alaska to conduct a combat a 10-hour round trip training mission based off lessons learned from their raid in Libya.

In particular, Operation Chimichanga gave the 37th BS crews the opportunity to test the tactics and procedures for “a more robust and accurate in-flight planning and retargeting of the AGM-158 Joint Air-Surface Stanfoff Missile.”

A B-1 can accommodate up to 24 radar-evading JASSM in its bomb bays. This GPS-guided cruise missiles with 2,250-lbs warhead, can be fired from more than 200 miles, even if it will be replaced, beginning next year, by a JASSM-ER (extended-range) AGM-158B that can reach a target 600 miles away.

Among the objective of the operation was also to validate the F-22 and F-16’s ability to escort the bomber into a so-called anti-access target area: with a stealthy cruise missile that can hit a target from about 1,000 km away, the need of escort fighters might become almost superfluous, especially if the B-1 is called into action when the enemy air defenses have been already degraded (as happened in Libya).

Noteworthy, flying for the first time with the most recent “Block 3.1” hardware and softare upgrade, that provides the ability to find and engage ground targets, the Raptors took part to the exercise in a dual role: HVAAE (High Value Air Asset Escort) and air-to-surface, providing the capability to perform an immediate restrike on the same target (or one nearby), if needed.

Image credit: U.S. Air force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson


North Korea developing its own UCAV. Based on U.S. drone.

There are reports coming out of South Korean media that North Korea is developing UCAVs (Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles).

However rather than develop them from scratch they have purchased an unknown number of American made target drones from a middle eastern country thought to be Syria. It is thought that North Korea is going to reverse engineer the drone to produce an armed drone to patrol the disputed border it shares with South Korea and it’s thought it would be used to attack South Korean troops based on Islands in the Yellow Sea during a conflict.

The american drone mentioned us thought to be MQM-107 Streaker. Developed by Raytheon during the early ’70s, the Streaker is a high sub-sonic sub-scale target drone used by both U.S. Army and Air Force for testing guided missiles.

Further details are sparse and even the media source remains unnamed but The Aviationist will monitor and report back when further details emerge.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

Image: Wikipedia

North Korean Mig-29s exposed in Kim Jong Un pictures

Photos of North Korea Air Force’s Mig-29 are quite rare. The few available are mainly low quality ones or still from videos taken by surveillance planes intercepted by the North Koreans Fulcrums.

However, on Jan. 31, a new picture released by KCNA (Korean Central New Agency) and made available by Reuters. It shows Kim Jong Un posing with some soldiers and one pilot of the Korean People’s Army Air Force, with a shiny Mig-29 in the background.

Although the location where the image was taken was not disclosed, it could be Sunchon airbase, to the northeast of Pyongyang, home of the 57th Air Regiment, where at least a squadron of the about 30 Mig-29 operating with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Air Force is based.

Among the images released by KCNA, there is also one depicting a Su-25K overflying the base during the visit of Kim Jong Un who, among all the other things, is also the Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army. Since a squadron of Su-25 is also based at Sunchon as satellite images show, the presence of a Frogfoot seems to suggest that the photograph was really taken there.

Image credit: Reuters/KCNA