North Korean Air Engagement

North Korean Air Engagement. Gulf of Sidra II or Armageddon?

North Korea’s threat to shoot down U.S. Military aircraft outside of their air space is another step towards confrontation, but could they do it? More to the point, what would be the result?

First, the likelihood of the DPRK shooting down U.S. aircraft is slim to none. During the first gulf of Sidra incident U.S. navy F-14’s downed Libyan fighters that were of the same vintage as most of the DPRK’s current air force. They did so with relative ease. This incident occurred in 1981, so it is safe to say that an air-to-air option is off the table for the DPRK. A surface to air shoot down is also highly unlikely. The KN-06 is their most advanced weapon similar to the Russian S-300. It has a range of 93 miles but the U.S. aircraft can operate at the edge of that rand and they possess advanced electronic countermeasures (ECM) that would make it extremely difficult make a hit. It is also of note that this system only became operation in May of this year.

Second, scoring a hit does not matter to the DPRK. When Khadafy’s pilots were shot down (not just in 1981 but also in 1989 over the same body of water), he told the public they had scored a victory. North Korea has even stricter censorship than Libya did so the news will have few, if any, objections. This will strengthen Kim’s grip on the country because he can claim that he defended the country against foreign aggression. Kim is not unlike Trump in that adulation from sycophants and insiders (if there is a difference) is paramount to his mental wellbeing.

This craving for being right and viewed ad s victor is the real danger in a seemingly one off air-to-air engagement. If the North Koreans attempt and attack that failed attempt could easily escalate. The previous post took note of how the media can influence the outbreak of war. The modern news cycle can inflame things to the point of hysteria. The Trump administration has benefitted from military distraction as shown during the pointless missile strike on Syria. Trump, like Kim, feels stronger when aggressive measures are taken. They both also enjoy the distraction from domestic issues. The difference is Trump has even less knowledge of warfare and foreign relations than Kim. Kim is crude, brutal and dictatorial but he was trained to be that way. Trump really has not trained for anything. Worse, he does not care to learn and he has a short temper.

The Missile crisis has entered a new and dangerous stage. It can escalate out of control with a failed attack. Trump lacks the restraint needed to be president and Kim cannot back down without jeopardizing his future. For Kim, losing face is the first step towards the dreaded regime change. Trump just does not want to lose. If something drastic does not happen soon, we will all lose. Cooler heads need to prevail, if they are still around.

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