Photo taken on January 5, 2022 and published on January 6 by the official North Korean news agency KCNA, which presents it as the test firing of a hypersonic missileSTR
North Korea carried out a hypersonic missile test fire, the official North Korean agency KCNA reported Thursday, the first such test by Pyongyang this year.
The missile was fired on Wednesday and carried a “hypersonic warhead” which “accurately hit a target 700 km away,” according to KCNA.
The launch made it possible to “reconfirm the flight control and stability of the missile in active flight phase and to assess the performance of the new lateral movement technique applied to the detached hypersonic warhead,” KCNA said.
The test also verified the “fuel bulb system in winter weather conditions,” the agency added.
This is the second time North Korea has reported firing a hypersonic missile, a sophisticated weapon that attests to advances by the North Korean defense industry.
This type of missile is faster and more maneuverable than a standard missile, making it more difficult for defense systems to intercept, on which the United States spends billions of dollars.
KCNA did not specify the speed of the fired projectile and neighboring countries did not release an estimate.
Hypersonic missiles typically reach Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound.
After testing the Hwasong-8 in 2021, the South Korean military estimated the missile to be in the early stages of its development.
Depending on their design, supersonic missiles can carry conventional or nuclear warheads and can shift the strategic balance.
On Wednesday, South Korea and Japan had detected a firing by Pyongyang of an unidentified projectile, which would be a ballistic missile, in the sea located to the east of the peninsula (Sea of Japan, or East Sea according to the ‘Korean name).
The United States condemned this shooting which according to them “violates several UN Security Council resolutions and represents a threat to North Korea’s neighbors and the international community”.
Hypersonic missiles are among the “top priorities” of North Korea’s five-year plan, state media reported last year.
This first weapons test in 2022 follows a year of major tests despite the serious impact of the pandemic on the country’s economy.
The crisis has not affected military programs and Pyongyang continues to expand its arsenal, a UN report unveiled in October.
Concern about a serious food crisis has grown and a UN human rights expert warned in October that the most vulnerable people were “at risk of starvation”.