The U.S. Air Force’s RC-135W Rivet Joint spy plane conducted a surveillance flight over South Korea to monitor North Korea’s activities following its claim of testing an underwater nuclear attack drone.
North Korea had recently asserted that it successfully tested an underwater nuclear attack drone, known as the Haeil-5-23, in the East Sea. This test was in response to joint naval drills conducted by South Korea, the United States, and Japan.
The RC-135V/W Rivet Joint aircraft, utilized by both the U.S. Air Force and the Royal Air Force, serves as a highly capable signals intelligence (SIGINT) platform. Equipped with a range of onboard sensors, it specializes in collecting communication emissions and gathering information about air defense radars and other signal emitters, as well as pinpointing their locations.
The Rivet Joint conducted its flight, covering various regions including Incheon, Gangwon Province, and both the eastern and western coasts.
While the deployment of this advanced spy aircraft is part of routine intelligence-gathering operations, the extensive flight routes it took during this mission may convey a message of pressure toward North Korea, according to undisclosed sources.
This recent surveillance flight marks the third known flight this year, with the previous two having been observed solely in inland airspace on January 4th and 17th. The heightened monitoring by South Korea and the U.S. reflects their determination to detect any potential signs of provocations by North Korea. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has called for increased war readiness in response to perceived “unprecedented” acts of U.S.-led confrontations.