North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has instructed the North Korean air force to be ready to bomb enemy aircraft carriers.
North Korea recently held a combat flight contest for the commanding officers of the Korean People’s Army Air and Anti-Air Force, an event designed to make “all the flight commanding officers a match for a hundred fighters capable of destroying any targets, including enemy aircraft carriers,” according to the Korean Central News Agency.
Kim praised the fighter pilots, claiming that they “successfully performed diverse artistry flights, their flights were wonderful and they fully showed scientific flying and perfect aviation.”
The North Korean training exercise comes as the USS Carl Vinson and USS Ronald Reagan, two Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, are operating off the Korean Peninsula. A third aircraft carrier, the USS Nimitz, is currently on its way to the region to replace the Vinson, which began its Western Pacific deployment in January.
The U.S. has been steadily increasing its military presence in Korea as tensions with the reclusive North Korean regime rise.
Since President Donald Trump took office, the reclusive kingdom has fired off a dozen ballistic missiles, among which were three new ballistic missile systems. Two of those systems — the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile and the Pukguksong-2 medium-range ballistic missile — may be the technological predecessors to liquid and solid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missiles. Experts, however, suspect that North Korea is still several years away from mastering this type of technology.
Nonetheless, the North’s missile program is advancing much faster than previously expected.
The deployment of the USS Carl Vinson and other naval assets to the peninsula has infuriated Pyongyang, which asserts that the U.S. is preparing for an invasion. North Korea has repeatedly threatened to sink American naval units operating in the region.
“Our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a single strike,” the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the ruling party, wrote in late April. The nuclear-powered submarine the U.S. sent to accompany the Vinson also put Pyongyang on edge. “It will be doomed to face the miserable fate of becoming an underwater ghost without being able to come to the surface,” North Korea’s major propaganda outlet Uriminzokkiri warned.
The Trump administration is committed to resolving the crisis on the peninsula by applying economic and diplomatic pressure, as a military solution would be costly. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said previously that a conflict in Korea would be “tragic on an unbelievable scale.”
At the same time, the administration maintains that all options are on the table.
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