November 04, 2022 09:45
South Korea and the U.S. decided to extend massive aerial drills that were to end Friday after North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile on Thursday morning.
Pak Jong-chon, the top military officer in North Korea, warned Thursday night that extending the air drills is a "huge mistake" and the situation is now "out of control." At midnight, the North fired three more short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea.
The long-range missile fired in the morning is believed to have fallen into the East Sea once the second-stage booster separated from the missile. "The North fired an ICBM into the East Sea from Sunan, Pyongyang around 7:40 a.m.," the Joint Chiefs of Staff here said. "We found that the missile flew 760 km at a speed of Mach 15 after reaching an altitude of about 1,920 km."
The booster separated successfully, but the missile seems to have fizzled due to a shortage of thrust power. Though the launch was not a complete success, the regime seems to have made some progress compared to earlier tests.
With a range of 15,000 km, the missile -- unofficially dubbed Hwasong 17 -- could strike any target in the U.S.
Pyongyang also fired two short-range ballistic missiles Thursday morning.
The North has reacted with a furious volley of missiles to the air drills, which practice hitting vital installations in the North. Some 240 warplanes are taking part, including about 140 South Korean aircraft such as F-35A, F-15K and KF-16 fighter jets and KC330 mid-air refueling aircraft, as well as about 100 U.S. warplanes such as F35B fighters, EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft, U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft and KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling aircraft.
The two allies are practicing destroying North Korean fighter jets in air combat and striking more than 700 major targets in North Korea like nuclear missile bases, command posts and major munitions factories.
The training kicked off on Oct. 31 and was originally scheduled to end Friday, but the two countries unprecedentedly decided to extend it, though they did not say for how long.
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