Cathay flight crew 'saw' North Korea missile from plane

Violet Powell
December 6, 2017

Two South Korean aircraft also reported witnessing the missile's launch, said the BBC. The missile flew ten times higher than the global space station and then back down to Earth.

According to Channel NewsAsia, the move has come after the July 27 missile launch by North Korea into the Sea of Japan, Singapore Airlines said on Tuesday.

The most recent test took place November 29 and was sighted by airline crews on at least three commercial flights by Korean Air and Cathay Pacific.

Earlier this year, Air France imposed a no-fly zone over North Korea after one of its flights flew past the site of Pyongyang's July 28 missile test over Japan.

The missiles "are predominantly re-entering into Japanese airspace", Flight Service Bureau, a Florida-based aviation consulting firm, said in August.

Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific released a statement saying the crew of flight CX893 spotted "what is suspected to be the re-entry" of the missile as they flew from San Francisco to the southern Chinese city.

The AP reported the missile was in the air for almost an hour and reached an altitude of 2,780 miles before plummeting into the Sea of Japan about 600 miles from its launch point.

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The plane, which was flying from San Francisco to Hong Kong, was over Japan at the time.

"At the moment, no one is changing any routes or operating parameters", Cathay said yesterday.

"Though the flight was far from the event location, the crew advised Japan ATC (air traffic control), according to procedure", the spokeswoman said, adding that flight operations had remained normal and was not affected, the Morning Post stated. "We remain alert and review the situation as it evolves".

North Korea's last missile launch marked a major evolution in the communist country's ballistic missile program. Were the weapon to be fired on a minimum energy trajectory or standard launch trajectory, there is a possibility the re-entry vehicle would survive.

North Korea has developed ballistic missiles powerful enough to reach their intended targets, including those as far away as the continental US, and nuclear warheads for those weapons, but the North has struggled with re-entry vehicle technology, which ensures that the warhead survives the flight.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said he still had confidence in diplomatic efforts to address the North Korea situation, but that the US also has military options available.

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