South Korea explains major drone scare – media
Seoul deployed military aircraft and attack helicopters to chase a flock of birds that was mistaken for an intruding North Korean drone, local media reported on Tuesday, citing the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). This incident occurred a day after five North Korean UAVs reportedly crossed into its neighbor’s territory.
According to the South Korean media, the military notified the fire department and local authorities in Ganghwa County, west of Seoul, that a drone was spotted in the area. The county officials then warned locals via text message around 3pm local time, urging them to take precautions.
The disturbance, however, was eventually “assessed as a flock of birds, not North Korean drones,” an official at the JCS was quoted by Korean media as saying. Nevertheless, the Air Force had been tracking the flock for around three hours and scrambled jet fighters and helicopters.
The mistake came amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula as Seoul said that five North Korea surveillance drones crossed the border on Monday, with one reaching the northern parts of the capital.
According to the Korea Herald, South Korean air defense systems were unable to detect the UAVs, while jet fighters and helicopters failed to intercept any of them. The JCS apologized on Tuesday for the military’s performance, promising to “aggressively” mobilize its forces against the drone threat.
Pyongyang has rattled its southern neighbor in recent months by firing missiles into the Sea of Japan, which Koreans call the East Sea. Seoul and Washington accused North Korea of stoking tensions in the region. Pyongyang, meanwhile, said that its launches were a response to joint US-South Korean military drills, which North Korea views as a threat to its security.