The United States
has deployed a high-altitude surveillance drone to Japan
to monitor North Korea’s activities amid heightened tensions with Pyongyang.
The RQ-4 Global Hawk drone with the capability of collecting aerial data from an altitude of about 15 kilometers or higher arrived at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo late on Monday and will be in Japan on a five-month mission.
According to the US
Defense Ministry, the drone will be remotely controlled from Yokota during take-off and landing, and then from the US
mainland, once it reaches a sufficient altitude.
US military officials said four other Global Hawk drones and a total of 110 staff members would soon be sent to Japan, arguing that the deployment is aimed at ensuring the security of Japan.
In a statement published last month, the US Pacific Command saidt Washington “continues to deploy its most advanced capabilities to Japan, including the Global Hawk, in keeping with our commitment to further contribute to the security of Japan and to the stability of the region.”
Global Hawks lack offensive capabilities and are used in reconnaissance flights to provide real-time aerial imagery.
The development comes a few days after Tokyo and Washington conducted joint military drills in the waters off Japan’s Okinawa Island. North Korea has threatened the US with a nuclear attack at any sign of military aggression.
Pyongyang has also insisted that it will continue its nuclear and missile programs until Washington stops its hostilities toward the East Asian country.
The North has so far conducted five confirmed nuclear tests and numerous missile test-launches, and it is believed to be preparing for a sixth nuclear weapons test.