Missile train helps North Korea deal with a pre-emptive strike

Train-based missiles help North Korea hide its forces from a pre-emptive strike, but add an additional burden on defense development, experts say.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Sunday’s ballistic missile launch was a test of a “new train-based missile system”, conducted by a railway missile regiment established earlier this year. .

“This system is an effective countermeasure, capable of delivering multiple blows in succession to the forces threatening the country,” said General Pak Jong-chon, a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Workers’ Party of Korea. , said after supervising the test.

A rocket leaves the launch pad on a train in North Korea on September 15.  Photo: KCNA.

A rocket leaves the launch pad on a train in North Korea on September 15. Photo: KCNA.

Published images show a blue projectile launched from a parked train in a hilly area. The entire launch system integrated in the carriage was modified, with the ammunition raised vertically and put into the launch position after the roof of the carriage opened. The doors on both sides of the car were also opened to escape the exhaust gas when the rocket was fired.

It is not clear what types of missiles this train can launch. The shell launched on September 15 appeared to be a version of the KN-23 tactical ballistic missile, with an appearance similar to the Russian Iskander-M missile. The projectile flew 800 km and reached a maximum altitude of 60 km, nearly double the 450 km range recorded by South Korean and Japanese officials in previous KN-23 missile tests.

“Railway missile force will help North Korea have .” add a way to quickly disperse forces, poses many challenges for enemy detection and surveillance. Tunnels across North Korea will also become fortified bunkers to hide launchers, limiting their efforts to track their movements, let alone launch disabling blows,” said military expert Joseph Trevithick. review.

The wagons can leave the tunnel, fire the missile and quickly retreat to the old position or maneuver to the new tunnel, making them very difficult to hit back. Cars containing rocket launchers can also be constantly moving and intermingled with civilian trains.

North Korea is not the first country to develop a train-launched ballistic missile. The Soviet Union used to operate a train carrying intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) RT-23 Molodets. Russia considered reviving this force with the Barguzin missile system, but later canceled the project to pursue the Avangard hypersonic missile program.

The US also repeatedly researched ICBM solutions on trains during the Cold War to increase the survivability of strategic nuclear forces.

A ballistic missile launched from a train in North Korea on September 15.  Photo: KCNA.

A ballistic missile launched from a train in North Korea on September 15. Photo: KCNA.

Train-based rockets are a relatively cheap and reliable option for countries that want to enhance the survivability of their nuclear forces. This is understandable for North Korea,” said Adam Mount, an expert at the Association of American Scientists.

Experts say train-launched systems can use a variety of weapons, including missiles in development or already in service that can carry nuclear weapons. Information about the launch was announced just days after Pyongyang tested a strategic cruise missile with a range of no less than 1,500 km, when Washington and Seoul have yet to determine much information about the launch such as the firing location. and target location.

However, some say that North Korea’s development of a large number of missile launchers is unusual and could be detrimental to the country itself.

“This is not cost-effective, especially for a resource-constrained country like North Korea. It’s also far more complex than a unified and lean, singular-based force. launching platform”, Ankit Panda, an expert from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace based in the US, expressed his opinion and said that this missile launcher can lay the foundation for developing an ICBM launch system from a train. Future.

Vu Anh (Follow Drive)

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