Military Expresses Sorrow for Not Shooting Down Drones

South Korean leaders promise changes after overflight
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 28, 2022 5:47 PM CST
South Korea Promises Changes After Overflight by Drones
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during a Cabinet Council meeting at the presidential office in Seoul on Tuesday.   (Im Hun-jung/Yonhap via AP)

South Korea's president on Tuesday called for stronger air defenses and high-tech stealth drones while the military apologized for failing to shoot down North Korean drones that crossed the border for the first time in five years. South Korea's military scrambled warplanes and attack helicopters on Monday, but they failed to bring down any of the North Korean drones that flew back home or disappeared from South Korean radar. The episode raised serious questions about South Korea's air defense network at a time when tensions remain high over North Korea's torrid run of missile tests this year, the AP reports.

On Tuesday, the military again launched fighter jets and attack helicopters after spotting suspicious flight paths at a front-line area. A county office sent emergency text messages notifying residents of a new batch of North Korean drones. But the military later said it was a flock of birds. "We have a plan to create a military drone unit tasked with monitoring key military facilities in North Korea. But we'll advance the establishment of the drone unit as soon as possible because of yesterday's incident," President Yoon Suk Yeol said in a Cabinet Council meeting, per the AP. He said new stealth drones will be introduced and surveillance capability will be improved, adding that his nation's military needs more intensive readiness and exercises to cope with threats posed by North Korean drones.

Lt. Gen. Kang Shin Chul said in a televised statement that the military feels sorry because of its failure to shoot down the North Korean drones and for causing big public concerns. Kang acknowledged South Korea lacks the capacity to detect and strike surveillance drones with a wingspan of less than 9.8 feet, though it has assets to spot and bring down bigger combat drones. Kang said South Korea will establish drone units with various capacities and aggressively deploy military assets to shoot down enemy drones. North Korea has touted its drone program, and South Korean officials have previously said the North had about 300 drones. Advanced drones are among modern weapons systems that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to procure, along with multiwarheads, underwater-launched nuclear missiles, and a spy satellite.

(Read more South Korea stories.)

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