Airline Crew Says They Saw North Korean Test Missile Re-Enter Atmosphere


Two South Korean aircraft also reported witnessing the missile's launch, said the BBC. The missile soared to a height of 2,800 miles, ten times higher than the global space station, and then came nearly straight down.

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.

While North Korea has claimed that their new weapon has put all parts of the United States within reach of a devastating strike, US officials say the latest test was a failure since the missile broke apart on re-entry as the airliner witnessed.

Crew onboard a Cathay Pacific flight last week said they witnessed North Korea's latest missile test.

At the moment, there are no plans to change the airline's flight routes following the incident.

North Korea's Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile reached an altitude of about 4,475 km (2,780 miles) during its 53-minute flight.

Earlier in October, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) had condemned North Korea for the repeated launching of ballistic missiles. While the intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs, that North Korea has recently tested are not meant for use against aircraft, they could still pose a risk to planes.

Cathay did not give the location of the flight at the time of the sighting, but said the crew of the CX893 flight between Hong Kong and San Francisco had notified Japanese air traffic control "according to procedures".

A plane takes off near the control tower at San Francisco International Airport on February 25, 2013 in San Francisco, Calif. Mr. Trump did not give any specifics on plans to combat the North Korean threat however, the US moved a squadron of the military's F-22 stealth fighters to South Korea to begin combat exercises following the ICBM launch.

The flight crew's description of the missile breaking up during re-entry suggests the regime's nuclear weapon program still has not yet developed that vehicle, though the regime itself has claimed it has completed its "state nuclear force".

Hong Kong politician Jeremy Tam Man-ho, a former pilot, told the Morning Post that re-routing the affected routes, such between Hong Kong and North America, Japan and South Korea, for such situations was an option for airlines.

Meanwhile, Senator Lindsey Graham said Sunday on "Face the Nation" that preemptive war in North Korea is "becoming more likely" as the country's improving missile technology presents an increasing threat.