July 12, 2019 11:24
North Korea on Thursday threatened South Korea with dire consequences over the purchase of cutting-edge F-35A stealth fighter jets from the U.S.
An official from the North Korean Foreign Ministry said the purchase of the jets is a "direct challenge" to an inter-Korean military agreement signed in September 2018 and threatened to develop "special armaments to completely destroy" them.
"There is no room for doubt that the delivery of F-35A... is aimed at securing military supremacy over the neighboring countries in the region and, especially, opening a 'gate' to invading the North," the official said. "We, on our part, have no other choice but to develop and test... special armaments to completely destroy the lethal weapons reinforced in South Korea."
North Korea is currently incapable of shooting down an F-35 stealth fighter but is reportedly developing a radar system that is capable of detecting them.
Some fear that China could provide it. Chinese state media reported that a JY-26 long-range, three-dimensional radar in Shandong Province succeeded in detecting an F-22 stealth fighter that was flying over South Korean air space. China's DWL002 radar can also detect stealth aircraft from 500 km away by tracking heat from jet engines.
One military source said, "Existing radar systems are capable of detecting stealth jets, but it is almost impossible to shoot one down with guided missiles."
The South Korean Air Force took delivery of two F-35As in March and will purchase a total of 13 by the end of the year, rising to 40 by 2022. Fearful of North Korea's reaction, the Air Force has not decided when and how many of them to deploy.
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