A North Korea-manufactured drone. South Korea said drones from North Korea flew across the DMZ during high-level talks in August. File Photo by Yonhap
SEOUL, Sept. 2 (UPI) -- South Korea said North Korean drones trespassed into the South's side of the demilitarized zone several times during the high-level talks in August – but Seoul's military was unable to shoot them down even after they entered South Korean airspace.
The drones flew across the midpoint Military Demarcation Line inside the DMZ from Aug. 22 to 24, and even flew over General Outposts, where the military keeps a close watch over the border, Yonhap reported Wednesday.
The first unmanned aerial vehicle was detected on South Korean radar on Aug. 22 at 11:59 a.m., then again at 6 p.m., 30 minutes before high-level talks began on Saturday at the truce village of Panmunjom. The UAV flew across the no-fly zone once or twice each day the talks were being held between officials from Seoul and Pyongyang.
Seoul said the drone may have been the Bang Hyon II – a converted D-4 Chinese drone that measures 3.2 meters in length and can travel up to 101 mph at a maximum altitude of 1.86 miles, South Korean newspaper Herald Business reported.
But one South Korean military source told Yonhap that the drone was never seen, only detected on radar. Only its low speed and low altitude identified the object as a drone and not a bird in midflight inside the DMZ.
The military said in statement that it quickly dispatched helicopters and fighter aircraft, including the AH-1 SuperCobra, a twin-engine attack helicopter, and two jets – the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle.
Low visibility and the sudden comings and goings of the UAV were cited as reasons South Korean jets were unable to strike the drone, and no shots were fired from helicopters or fighter jets, Seoul said.
South Korea press reported the drone incursion has led to criticism of the military but Seoul said its aerial defense prevented the drones from flying further south, and that any firing of shots may have violated the 1953 Armistice Agreement.