December 28, 2022 12:59
South Korea sent two RQ-101 Songgolmae reconnaissance drones across the military demarcation line on Tuesday in response to a North Korean drone incursion a day earlier.
They took a risk of retaliation with artillery fire in the process, a military source claimed. "North Korean artillery shells could have fallen into the demilitarized zone or a nearby area if the North had fired at our drones, but the South Koran military wanted to send a stern message," the source said.
The Songgolmae is a homegrown reconnaissance drone developed in 2000 and deployed warfare-ready in 2005. It can stay airborne within a radius of 80 to 110 km of the remote control for up to six hours.
At 4.7 m long and 6.4 m wide, it is more easily spotted than the less than 2 m long North Korean drones that flew over Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province on Monday. But the North did not respond while the two Songgolmae drones were spying on its military facilities.
"It's highly likely that they were completely in the dark about the drones," a military officer here said.
The military, meanwhile, apologized for failing to shoot down the five North Korean drones the previous day.
The U.S. reaction was muted. A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said, "We are aware of the reported [North Korean] drone flights across the military demarcation line, and we are consulting closely with [South Korea] about the nature of this incursion."
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