North Korean leader Kim Jong Un personally oversaw a rocket firing contest and a simulated combat flight drill, according to reports from the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
The agency announced Wednesday that the reclusive leader guided a firing contest of multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) operated by units of the Korean People’s Army under simulated war conditions. Kim reportedly said all commanding officers and troops need to be ready to strike targets at any time and gave a “high appreciation” of the successful competition, KCNA announced.
The report did not indicate exactly when or where the drills took place.
“Kim Jong Un expressed his satisfaction over the fact that all targets were hit properly, saying that the gunners are very excellent at firing and all of them are snipers,” according to KCNA. “He gave a high appreciation of the successful contest.”
Kim also guided a nighttime assault combat flight drill of fighter pilots from the Korean People’s Air and Anti-Air Forces who successfully blasted targets on the ground. After the drills, Kim reportedly shook hands with the pilots, who were “moved to tears,”according to a second KCNA announcement.
“As I emphasized whenever watching the rehearsal of fighter pilots, the battle for defending the territorial air of the country is not fought, depending on weather or time, and a modern warfare is waged in the worst conditions,” Kim said. “It is, therefore, necessary to fully prepare the fighter pilots as able airmen and all-round ones capable of successfully carrying out any aerial combat duty in any adversity by conducting similar drill in the future.”
Kim reportedly took photos with the pilots and congratulated them on the successful drill.
“Thanks to the death-defying corps of the airmen possessed of the indomitable spirit of defending the country and the self-blasting spirit, the sky of the country will always remain azure,” Kim said.
Meanwhile, a South Korean military expert told NKNews.org that the drills had actually had more of a defensive purpose, in contrast to North Korea’s more offensive drills that have occurred twice in the past month.
“Since an interceptor fighter has the aim of prohibiting enemy fighter jets from entering North Korean territory, the North conducted a military exercise in a bid to respond to an ‘ambush of South Korean and US soldiers,’” said Kim Min-seok, a senior researcher at the Korea Defense and Security Forum.
But another military analyst toldthat the exercises were an attempt to demonstrate the country’s firepower as deployments and drills continue on behalf of South Korea and the United States.
“North Korea showed off that the country can make massive retaliation with conventional weapons even without using nuclear weapons,” said Kim Dong-yeop, a researcher at the Seoul-based Institute for Far Eastern Studies.