Experts speculate that propaganda photographs of recent North Korean military maneuvers may have had additional planes photo-shopped in to give the impression that the country’s air force is more powerful than it really is.
Between October 6 and 8, according to Pyongyang, massive live-fire drills involving 150 planes “flying simultaneously for the first time in [our] history” were conducted. Images that were later made public showed a great number of aircraft performing maneuvers in front of Kim.
However, the photographs seem to have been digitally changed, with specific planes or whole formations of aircraft cloned and pasted to create the impression the show was considerably bigger than it really was, according to Thorsten Beck, a photo analysis specialist at Berlin’s HEADT Centre research institution.
Dr. Beck said that after looking over the photographs closely and seeing many inconsistencies, he ran them through software intended to detect image copying and discovered that the computer had picked up on many of the same problems.
“I believe the notion that components have been copied in a lot of photographs is valid,” he added. It’s safe to say that whomever took these photos or edited them knew how to use Photoshop.
Although it doesn’t seem amateurish, the composition, the goal, and the kind of alteration speak a distinct language. They seem a little too wonderful to be true, which gives some of the photographs a hilarious look.
Dr. Beck selected one photo of 30 airplanes flying above as an excellent illustration. The fact that the aircraft all seem to be nearly the same size despite the fact that they are purportedly flying at varying heights and distances from the camera, which would cause their appearance to alter, is one visual indicator of manipulation.
Another image of a variety of fighter aircraft against a spectacular sky also raised questions.
Dr. Beck said that the picture seemed to be well produced and nearly too wonderful to be real. My visual analysis mainly agrees with clone analysis in terms of which groupings exhibit resemblance.
He acknowledged that the claim of digital manipulation cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt because the photos are of a low resolution, there are few alternative viewpoints to compare, and the metadata that usually goes with digital photo files has been removed, which restricts the types of analysis that can be performed.
Additionally, due to their purposeful symmetry, military formations are challenging to analyze for duplication since picture software might mistakenly detect them as clones when they are really merely similar.
Additional research by other experts, however, indicates that the formations themselves don’t make sense from a military perspective, supporting the notion that the images have been altered.
“From the standpoint of a military exercise, the concentration and amount of aircraft make little tactical or strategic sense,” said Samuel Archer, a senior military analyst for Aviation Week.
“It seems to me that the only true reason you’d place that many airplanes in flight so close together would be to make it seem in images like there were a lot more of them than there are,” the author said.
In conclusion, duplicated parts are probably present in many of the photographs, but visual analysis cannot provide a 100% guarantee, said Dr. Beck.
Last week, the drills were conducted over the waters close to the eastern city of Wonsan.
Kim Jong-un reportedly congratulated the pilots afterwards and pushed them to “discharge their sacred responsibility of protecting the nation,” according to official media.
The pilots, the real ones, were claimed to have responded with rapturousness.