U.S. deploys 2nd carrier to Korea as Chinese jets challenge ‘sniffer’ plane

by WorldTribune Staff, May 19, 2017

Two Chinese fighter jets on May 17 conducted an intercept of a U.S. “sniffer” plane that is part of allied operations to counter the growing North Korean strategic threat.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy confirmed the deployment of a second aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, near the Korean Peninsula where it will conduct dual-carrier training exercises with the USS Carl Vinson.

WC-135 Constant Phoenix

The developments comes on the heels of a successful May 14 North Korean test launch of a projectile that achieved “successful” controlled reentry into the earth’s lower atmosphere rather than falling back to the surface, according to a preliminary U.S. intelligence assessment.

The KN-17 missile is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead up to 3,400 miles – enough to reach Alaska and Guam, Geostrategy-Direct.com reports in its May 16 edition.

The Pacific island of Guam is a key strategic hub for the U.S. military in the Pacific.

The missile attained the unusually high altitude of around 1,200 miles to test its capability of delivering a nuclear warhead through the earth’s atmosphere during re-entry.

The Sukhoi Su-30 fighters came as close as 150 feet to the U.S. aircraft over the East China Sea, the U.S. military said.

The U.S. WC-135 Constant Phoenix “sniffer” aircraft was on a mission to detect radiation in international airspace over the East China Sea when two Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets intercepted it, military officials told NBC news.

The officials, who described the Chinese act as “unprofessional,” said the Constant Phoenix was operating in accordance with international law.

“The issue is being addressed with China through appropriate diplomatic and military channels,” Air Force spokesperson Lt. Col. Lori Hodge said.

The USS Carl Vinson arrived near Korea last month as a show of force following a summit meeting in Florida between President Donald Trump and China’s supreme leader Xi Jinping at which the long-anticipated sixth nuclear test by the North Korean government was discussed.

“Coming out of a long in-port maintenance period we have to ensure that Ronald Reagan and the remainder of the strike group are integrated properly as we move forward,” Rear Adm. Charles Williams said in a press release announcing the deployment.