Kim Jong-un on Thursday called on his regime’s air force to boost its combat posture to immediately respond to enemy military threats, vowing to create a “dazzling new era” of development.
The North Korean leader made his call for action on the Aviation Day holiday as he inspected combat aircraft at the Sunchon Airbase north of Pyongyang, reported NK News, citing state media.
In photos released by North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun, Kim and his young daughter Ju-ae wore matching long leather winter coats as they walked along a red carpet in front of a line of aircraft hangars and applauding officials.
Additional images show what appears to be a military control room with Kim Kwang Hyok, the air force commander, where the North Korean leader is reviewing attack plans over maps of South Korea.
Kim “set forth operational and tactical policies arising in putting the air force on a regular combat posture and increasing its capabilities to fight a war to the full”, the Korean Central News Agency reported.
According to South Korean defence analysis in 2022, the North’s air force has a total of 1,570 aircraft, including 810 combat aircraft.
Seoul believes North Korea aims to build up its air defence capabilities through the development and deployment of new surface-to-air missiles.
Kim’s latest comments come at a time of heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula after Pyongyang broke international sanctions by launching a military spy satellite, and the North and South abandoned a military pact intended to reduce their surveillance operations at the high-security border.