Monday, March 3
North Korea MiG's Intercept U.S. Jet on a Spy Mission
Eric Schmitt, New York Times, March 4, 2003

Four North Korean fighter jets intercepted an unarmed United States Air Force spy plane on a surveillance mission near North Korea's coast on Saturday, and came within 50 feet of the American aircraft, military officials said today.

The fighters shadowed the spy plane, an RC-135S Cobra Ball, for 22 minutes in international airspace about 150 miles off the North Korean coast, said Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.

Military officials said they had no indication that United States fighter jets were scrambled to protect the reconnaissance plane before it broke off its mission and returned safely to its home base at Kadena Air Base in Japan.

The incident occurred late Saturday night — Sunday morning in Korea — and military officials gave no explanation for their delay in discussing the event.

But officials said the reconnaissance missions by the RC-135S, which tracks ballistic-missile launchings, would continue with armed American fighter escorts. That raised the possibility of an escalation of hostilities, officials said. [...]
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