The US Indo-Pacific Command said it was aware of the latest missile launch and had assessed that “it does not pose an immediate threat to US personnel or territory, or to our allies”.
“We will continue consulting closely with our allies and partners to monitor the DPRK’s destabilising ballistic missile launches,” it said, referring to North Korea by the initials of its official name.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile was launched at about 1.49am on Friday (1449 Thursday GMT) from the Sunan area near North Korea’s capital Pyongyang. It was at least the 41st ballistic missile launch by North Korea this year.
Japan’s coast guard also reported that North Korea had fired what could have been a ballistic missile and that it had already fallen.
The South Korean JCS statement said the aircraft incident happened late on Thursday and early Friday Korean time.
The statement said the North Korean aircraft were detected flying about 25km north of the Military Demarcation Line in the central region of the Korea border area and about 12km north of the Northern Limit Line, a de facto inter-Korean border in the Yellow Sea, between 10.30pm Thursday (1330 GMT) and 12.20am on Friday (1530 GMT Thursday).
The JCS said the aircraft were also seen near the eastern part of the inter-Korean border.
It said the South Korean air force “conducted an emergency sortie with its superior air force, including the F-35A, and maintained a response posture, while carrying out a proportional response maneuver corresponding to the flight of a North Korean military aircraft”.
KCNA quoted a spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) as saying that the South Korean army had conducted about 10 hours of artillery fire near North Korea’s forward defense area on Thursday.
“Taking a serious note of this provocative action by the South Korean military in the frontline area, we took strong military countermeasures,” it said. “The KPA sends a stern warning to the South Korean military inciting military tension in the frontline area with reckless action.”
A South Korean military spokesman said he had no information regarding the artillery fire.
North Korea has called its most recent series of missile tests, which included an intermediate range ballistic missile that flew over Japan last week, a show of force against joint South Korean and US military drills.
South Korea scrambled fighter jets a week ago after North Korean warplanes staged an apparent bombing drill as allied warships held missile defense drills in response to North Korean missile tests.
Washington imposed new sanctions last week targeting a fuel procurement network supporting Pyongyang’s weapons programs.
Decades of US-led sanctions have not stemmed North Korea’s increasingly sophisticated weapons programs, and Kim Jong Un has shown no interest in returning to a failed path of diplomacy he pursued with former US President Donald Trump.