North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday attended a flight contest by the country’s Korean People’s Army Air and Anti-Air Force, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Saturday, hailing the “invincible might” of the country’s flying corps.
The exercise, overseen by the DPRK leader, top officials from the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), and military commanders, saw pilots “conduct bombing flight and firing flight under the command of the formation flight.”
“The flight commanding officers and the combat pilots fully demonstrated the invincible might of Kim Jong Un’s flying corps by displaying the aviation they have trained during the ordinary days,” KCNA reported in an English-language dispatch.
This week’s drill by North Korea is likely intended, in part, as a response to the U.S. and South Korea’s plans for an upcoming joint air combat exercise.
Those drills — a modified version of the former “Vigilant Ace” regular exercise — have sparked outrage from North Korea, with a statement by the country’s top State Affairs Commission on Wednesday warning the situation on the peninsula stood to worsen should they go ahead.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper this week suggested, however, that the U.S. and South Korea could modify future drills in order to facilitate diplomacy with North Korea, while insisting that the upcoming exercise is defensive in nature.
In response, a top DPRK official on Friday welcome the remarks, while warning that the country would “answer with shocking punishment” should “hostile provocations” continue.
In response to this week’s exercise, Kim Jong Un was on Saturday reported to have praised the pilots, while stressing the importance of military tactics and ideological training in guaranteeing victory.
“Our pilots have to try to fight the enemies armed to the teeth with great idea and tactics under any circumstances,” Kim was reported to have said. “The result of the fight is not decided by the combat specification of arms and equipment but by for what and with what idea the fight is fought.”
“However loudly the enemies may brag about their technological advantages, they can never overwhelm the politico-ideological and combat and moral advantages of our service personnel.”
Kim then suggested that such exercises could become more regular occurrences, in order to ensure that the pilots are “fully ready” to use their training on the battlefield.
“It is important for all the pilots to possess high level of aviation, bombing skill and marksmanship by systematically conducting flight drills on a normal basis under the simulated conditions of an actual war in the severest condition,” state media quoted him as having said.
“He indicated the orientation as regards the development of the air force weaponry of our own style to contain the armed forces of the enemy boasting of the technical advantages of their aircrafts, giving vital instructions in developing the Juche-based air force.”
North Korea also conducted a similar drill in April, when Kim Jong Un was reported to have overseen military drills by the country’s air and anti-aircraft force divisions tasked with defending the capital city of Pyongyang.
Featured image: KCNA