South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo news reports that North Korean jets are bombing targets that appear to be life-sized renderings of South Korean F-15K Slam Eagle fighter jets.
The targets appear to be cut into grass near Sondok Military Airport in North Korea’s South Hamgyong Province. What appear to be bomb craters surround the mocked-up South Korean air base, which also show cutouts in the shapes of radars and missiles.
The range is designed for North Korea’s AN-2 jets, Chosun Ilbo reports, which carry North Korean special operations troops to infiltrate enemy territory and typically fly at low altitudes.
“The AN-2 is capable of carrying air-to-surface rockets or bombs to carry out bombing missions,” an unnamed South Korean intelligence officer told Chosun Ilbo. “It’d be very threatening if it avoids radar detection and drop bombs on our air bases while sending some dozen parachute commandos down to the ground.”
Satellite imagery showing the Korean People’s Army testing site.
Chosun Ilbo reports that the targets were not there in 2017; they only appeared during denuclearization talks with the US and South Korea last year, suggesting that while North Korea was touting its nuclear strength, it was also sharpening its conventional combat capabilities.
According to North Korea Leadership Watch, there is a similar testing site near Pyongyang. “A few years back a KPA [Special Forces] unit practiced urban warfare on structures meant to like a [South Korean] neighborhood.”
“There is a tit-for-tat dynamic as the ROK [forces] have put up and opened fire on some of their own interesting sites meant to look those in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”
North Korea has the fourth-largest conventional military force in the world, and has been ramping up its conflict with both South Korea and the US in recent months. Since July, North Korea has performed six weapons tests as US President Donald Trump hopes to restart peace talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
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