Korean Fighters Intercept U.S. Jet
Over Sea of Japan
T. Rhem, AFPS
March 3, 2003 — Four North Korean fighter jets intercepted a
U.S. Air Force plane in international airspace over the Sea of
Japan early Mar. 2, Defense Department officials said.
Korean MiG-29 fighters and two other North Korean aircraft believed
to be MiG-23s engaged an American RC-135S reconnaissance aircraft
on a "routine mission" 150 miles off the coast of North
Korea, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman said this
Korean fighters "shadowed" the American plane for 22
minutes starting at 10:48 a.m. local time — Saturday evening
Eastern time. Davis said that the North Korean aircraft closed
to within 50 feet of the American airplane at an equal altitude.
were armed and at least one may have engaged its fire- support
radar and "locked on" to the American jet, he said.
The RC-135S then returned unharmed to its home base in Kadena
Air Base, Japan.
said the incident is the first such direct hostile act by North
Korea since MiG-17 fighters from that country shot down a U.S.
Navy EC-121 reconnaissance plane over the Sea of Japan in April
1969, killing all 31 persons aboard.
before that shootdown, North Korean sailors boarded and captured
the USS Pueblo in international waters off the coast of North
Korea. One American sailor died defending the ship in the initial
attack. North Korea held the surviving 82 crew members for 11
months before releasing them. All reported being beaten and tortured
during their captivity. North Korea kept the Pueblo and today
maintains it as a museum and propaganda tool.