SEOUL, (BM) – Shortly after the activation of its first squadron of F-35A fifth generation fighters, and confirmation of further orders for the advanced stealth fighters, South Korea’s Air Force has released a promotional video showing the aircraft neutralising one of North Korea’s most capable new military assets – an intercontinental range ballistic missile (ICBM), learned BulgarianMilitary.com.
The missile in question was the Hwasong-14, the first ever tested by North Korea with the ability to strike the United States mainland. The missile was first tested on July 4th 2017, although it remains uncertain whether it has entered mass production.
The missile had an estimated range of 10,000km – placing much of the American mainland in range. A more capable ICBM design, the Hwasong-15, was tested later that year in November and is confirmed to have been placed in mass production.
The newer platform has a 13,000km range, and a number of sources have reported it is capable of deploying multiple warheads.
The F-35A is a key component of South Korea’s Kill Chain pre-emptive strike program, and is designed to penetrate heavily fortified airspace such as that of North Korea. While retaining a defensive air to air capability, platform’s was primarily designed to conduct airstrikes against enemy ground targets.
The F-35 poses a significant threat to North Korea due primarily to their survivability against enemy air defences and its combination of extremely powerful sensors and data links which provide excellent situational awareness. This latter point is particularly critical given the difficulties of locating road mobile ballistic missile or air defence platforms, although the dense network of fortifications and underground missile bases will still make missiles such as the Hwasong-14 extremely difficult to track in North Korea’s mountainous terrain.
North Korea has responded to the deployment of the F-35A with tests of tactical ballistic missiles and superheavy rocket artillery systems, both of such are capable of neutralising airbases across South Korea and either leaving F-35s inoperable or else destroying them entirely.
North Korea’s armed forces earlier this year appeared to be rehearsing the destruction of South Korean airfields deploying F-15K heavyweight fighters, using full scale mockups of the aircraft, which caused considerable concern in South Korea’s armed forces.
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Source: Military Watch Magazine