Did air traffic on the American west coast stop for a while because of a North Korean missile?

Fact: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered around 2:30 p.m. local time Monday that all planes currently about to depart at US West Coast airports must be grounded. Less than fifteen minutes later, the order was withdrawn. The temporary suspension of the flight operation in the United States normally only takes place in extreme weather conditions. And the latter was not the case: the weather was fine.

An FAA official later told Reuters news agency that the measure was related to “initial reports of events in the region”. The FAA wouldn’t go into detail about that, but the only logical explanation is the test with a hypersonic glide missilee by North Korea which also took place at the time.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is currently ramping up his country’s missile program and has listed South Korea, Japan and the United States as possible targets. The strict communist dictatorship reported in the usual triumphant fashion through the state media of a “successful test” with the projectile that allegedly hit a planned target in the sea a thousand kilometers away.

It appears that this latest generation of North Korean missiles can reach the US west coast, over a distance of more than 8,000 kilometers. Unlike the ‘old-fashioned’ ballistic missile, the hypersonic glide missile not a predictable trajectory and is therefore more difficult to trace and intercept. The speed of the type is around Mach 5 (6,200 kilometers per hour), so the missile could hit Seattle or San Francisco in just over an hour. North Korea also has nuclear weapons and may be able to equip its own missiles with nuclear warheads.


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