North Korea’s newly-tested missile can penetrate air defense nets

The cruise missile North Korea has just tested has a long range and the ability to evade radar and penetrate enemy air defenses, according to experts.

North Korea announced it test-fired a new long-range cruise missile over the weekend, calling it a strategic weapon of great significance. The projectile traveled for 7,580 seconds following an oval and figure-eight trajectory over the territory and territorial waters of Korea, and then hit a target 1,500 km away.

According to images of the launch published in the Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the rocket launcher is mounted on a truck chassis with five launch tubes similar to the giant artillery system used by Pyongyang. announced last year. Aerial photos show the projectile has a round, long cylindrical head with two main lift wings and three rudders at the tail, similar to many long-range cruise missile models in the world.

A cruise missile North Korea fires (left) and on the flight path in this photo released on September 13.  Photo: KCNA.

A cruise missile North Korea fires (left) and on the flight path in this photo released on September 13. Photo: KCNA.

“This is North Korea’s first cruise missile described as a strategic weapon. The term is often used for systems that can carry nuclear warheads,” said Ankit Panda, an expert from the US-based Carnegie Foundation for International Peace.

It is unclear if Pyongyang has mastered the technology to miniaturize nuclear warheads to fit on cruise missiles, but North Korean leader Kim Jong-un earlier this year declared developing a smaller warhead a priority. Top.

“Long-range cruise missiles carrying nuclear warheads will cause many difficulties, forcing the enemy to think very carefully about where to deploy defensive radars and invest more in their ability to deal with cruise missiles.” , said Panda, claiming that North Korea’s new type of missile is part of the “missile shield penetration” strategy pursued by the country in recent years.

“The long-range surface-to-surface cruise missile is a weapon that greatly enhances North Korea’s offensive capabilities. It is a system designed to fly under the range of missile defense systems, even flying. bypass them to hit the target,” said Jeffrey Lewis, an expert at the James Martin Center for Non-Proliferation Studies in the US.

Vipin Narang, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, said cruise missiles carrying nuclear warheads are an important factor in neutralizing enemy air defenses, adding that This weapon is well suited to targets within 1,600 km ..

“They are equipped with jet engines that take in air from the outside environment, so they can fly low and maneuver. The oval and number 8 orbits are the way to check the missile’s range without exceeding it. out of North Korean airspace,” he said.

However, some experts also expressed doubts and warned that there are many unknown factors about the features of North Korea’s new cruise missile.

“This is a significant development for North Korea, but it should be avoided to attribute the features of many modern surface-to-surface cruise missiles to it. It is possible that this missile only uses markers with navigation signals. satellite, rather than a modern terrain-tracking navigation system. This would make a significant difference in range and accuracy,” said Joseph Dempsey, a military analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. (IISS), said.

Kim Jong-un has not supervised a missile test since March 2020.

“Missile tests are now routine without his supervision or direct involvement, although I’m sure Kim directly approved this activity. This could be an attempt to turn the missiles around. this event into normal activity. No leader of a nuclear power has directly watched every new weapon test in this era,” Panda said.

Vu Anh (Follow Reuters)

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