Update: An earlier version of this article included an incorrect aircraft number, which has now been removed.
Kim Jong Un’s Ilyushin IL-62M private jet appears to be en route to Singapore, data at the Flight Radar 24 website showed on Sunday.
The North Korean leader’s IL62 appeared over northeast China for a brief time on the flight tracking website, though disappeared from view shortly after entering Chinese airspace.
The recently upgraded jet – which has a range of some 5000 miles – is almost certainly carrying Kim to Singapore, having been used by the North Korean leader for a visit to Dalian in China this year.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported on Sunday that an IL-76 cargo plane had appeared on tracking data flying from Pyongyang to Guangzhou in southern China, where it refueled to fly onwards to Singapore.
Kim previously used an IL-76 to transport his armored stretch Mercedes Benz limousine to Dalian, suggesting Sunday’s flight may be carrying the same car to Singapore.
The brief appearance of Kim’s IL-62M personal jet on the flight tracking website, however, came Sunday despite mounting speculation that he might instead use an Air China Boeing 747 to make the flight to Singapore.
That’s because a highly unusual Air China flight using a 747 took off from Pyongyang on Sunday morning, flying directly to Singapore.
The plane, using flight number CCA061 and possibly transporting auxiliary support personnel to the summit, is currently mid-air en route to Singapore.
And on Saturday flight tracking data showed an Air China long-range Airbus A330 aircraft flying from Pyongyang to Singapore, landing in the island city-state at around 16:22 local time, likely also to transport DPRK personnel to provide Kim support at the summit.
It appears that Kim’s flight to Singapore aboard his state aircraft could be receiving support from China’s air force.
The South China Morning Post on Friday reported, citing a South Korean military source, that Beijing might support the trip by sending its fighter jets to trail Kim Jong Un’s aircraft en route to Singapore.
“If China does provide the escort, it may be a message directed at the U.S.-ROK alliance that China is strongly backing up the Kim regime,” the source said.
Like on Sunday, at Kim’s recent trip to Dalian in China, an Air Koryo IL-76 followed his private jet to transport his armored stretch Mercedes Benz to China.
Some analysts at the time suggested the trip could be a dry-run for the North Korean leaders forthcoming trip to Singapore, implying that it would be likely that Pyongyang dispatch the armored car there too.
Featured image: Rodong Sinmun
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