The United States and South Korea do not know much about the long-range cruise missile North Korea tested several days ago, including its flight path and launch location.
“The US and South Korea are still carefully analyzing information about the test. We have not determined the details such as the actual flight path and face many limitations and difficulties due to the characteristics of the cruise missile.” An unnamed source in the South Korean military revealed today, referring to the test of a cruise missile described by North Korea as an “important strategic weapon” last weekend.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) is usually quick to release information about North Korea’s ballistic missile tests. However, the agency has so far not released any information about the cruise missile launch, leading to speculation that Seoul and Washington did not detect the test, at least in real time.
“Cruise missiles fly slower and have less power than ballistic missiles, making them easier to intercept, but their low flying ability makes them easier to hide from anti-aircraft radars and have higher accuracy. “, Chang Young-keun, a missile expert at Korea Aviation University, said that the new North Korean missile flew at an altitude of less than 100 meters, beyond the detection range of many current air defense systems. of the US and Korea.
South Korea’s defense minister confirmed that the country’s military had discovered the test and was analyzing it. “We know North Korea has been developing such missiles since the early 2000s and has accumulated a lot of related technology. We have detection and interception systems to deal with North Korean cruise missiles, and will continue to evaluate and improve the air defense network in the future,” he said during a congressional hearing, but declined to divulge details.
During the test over the weekend, the North Korean cruise missile moved for 7,580 seconds along an oval and figure-eight trajectory over North Korea’s territory and territorial waters, then hit a target 1,500 kilometers away.
According to the launch image published in the newspaper Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the rocket launcher is mounted on a truck chassis with five launch tubes resembling the giant rocket system unveiled by Pyongyang 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.
It is North Korea’s first cruise missile to be described as a “strategic weapon”, the term commonly used for systems that can carry nuclear warheads. 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.
Vu Anh (Follow Yonhap)