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Defense Ministry releases video of fire-control radar lock-on by S. Korean destroyer

In this image taken from a video released on Dec. 28, 2018 by the Defense Ministry, a South Korean destroyer (center) that Japan claims locked onto a Maritime Self-Defense Force P-1 patrol aircraft is seen on Dec. 20.

TOKYO -- The Defense Ministry released video on Dec. 28 of what Japan alleges is a South Korean destroyer targeting a Japanese patrol aircraft with fire-control system radar over the Sea of Japan.

The Defense Ministry says its analysis of the data shows the P-1 patrol aircraft belonging to Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) was targeted several times by the South Korean ship's fire-control system on Dec. 20. Fire-control radar is used to lock onto a target immediately before attacking it. Even if the fire-control system operator has no intention of opening fire, it is considered an extremely dangerous act that can lead to dire consequences.

South Korea's Ministry of National Defense has insisted that its destroyer never targeted the MSDF aircraft.

Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters on Dec. 28 that the MSDF had followed international law and other applicable conventions, and that his ministry would release the video showing there was no truth to Seoul's claims that the P-1 plane had been flying low or otherwise behaving dangerously.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference the same day that Seoul "has recently taken a series of actions that negatively impact Japan-South Korean relations, and that is very regrettable."

At a Dec. 24 press conference, a South Korean defense official acknowledged that a camera attached alongside the radar was used to look for a North Korean fishing boat in distress, but the radar itself was powered down. The destroyer instead used three-dimensional radar to search for the ship, and radio waves from that equipment hit the P-1 plane, according to people linked to South Korean forces.


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