December 27, 2022 10:03
Five North Korean drones invaded South Korean airspace on Monday over Gimpo and Paju near the capital and Ganghwa Island in the West Sea. One even reached northern Seoul during their five-hour flight.
South Korea scrambled fighter jets and attack helicopters but was unable to intercept them. This is not the first time that a North Korean unmanned aerial vehicle has invaded South Korean airspace, but it is the first time that a small flotilla crossed over the heavily fortified military demarcation line.
Around 30 commercial flights were grounded for almost an hour at Incheon and Gimpo international airports.
The South Korean military not only failed to shoot down the drones, but one KA-1 light attack aircraft that had been scrambled crashed into a farm in Hoengseong, Gangwon Province.
According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the five UAVs, each less than 2 m long, crossed the border near Gimpo at around 10:25 a.m. One flew as far south as the northwestern Seoul suburb of Eunpyeong, while the other four buzzed around Ganghwa Island, Paju and Gimpo until 3:30 p.m.
One South Korean attack helicopter even fired around 100 rounds of 20-mm ammunition at them but missed. The drone that reached Seoul returned across the border but the other four disappeared from the radar around Ganghwa Island.
A military spokesman said, "We were too cautious to shoot them down for fear of damaging civilian homes."
But the South sent two drones into North Korean airspace and took surveillance photos of the North's military installations.
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