North Korea carried out a test firing of a hypersonic missile, the official North Korean agency KCNA said Thursday, confirming the first major weapons test conducted 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 missile head also demonstrated a “new” ability, moving sideways 120 km after detaching from the launcher to strike the target, the agency added.
A hypersonic missile is faster and more maneuverable than a standard missile, making it more difficult for defense systems, on which the United States spends billions of dollars, to intercept.
Hypersonic missiles typically reach Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound.
– Military need –
The test also verified the “fuel bulb system in winter weather conditions,” KCNA added.
A “bulb system” is made up of a carboy containing a propellant (mixture of oxidizer and fuel supplying energy to the rocket motor) attached to the missile during its manufacture.
This system eliminates the need to load the missiles with propellant at their launch site, as is the case with conventional liquid-fueled missiles, a lengthy process that gives the enemy full latitude to locate and destroy them.
This is the second time that North Korea has announced a hypersonic missile launch.
Since Kim Jong Un came to power ten years ago, North Korea has rapidly advanced its military technology. Hypersonic missiles are among the “top priorities” of North Korea’s five-year plan, state media reported last year.
Some experts believe that hypersonic weapons have only limited benefits, while others warn that if the country fully develops this technology, it will become an even more serious threat to the world.
Depending on their design, hypersonic missiles can carry conventional or nuclear warheads.
“It appears the North Koreans have identified hypersonic gliders as a military need (probably because they perceive them as an effective ballistic missile defense solution),” tweeted Ankit Panda of the US think tank Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
– International conviction –
“We would need independent and detailed data to assess the actual effectiveness of these missiles, but if one takes at face value the two North Korean statements about the Hwasong-8 and this missile, this test seems to have gone better. that “that of September, added Mr. Panda.
In 2021, in addition to the Hwasong-8 hypersonic missile, Pyongyang said it had successfully tested a new type of sea-to-surface ballistic missile (SLBM), a long-range cruise missile and an armament piece launched from a train.
The United States, Japan and Canada condemned Wednesday’s shooting.
“This launch is in violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions and poses a threat to the DPRK’s neighbors and the international community,” a US State Department spokesperson said, using the official name. from North Korea.
Since President Joe Biden took office a year ago, the United States has repeatedly declared its readiness to meet with North Korean officials.
But Pyongyang has so far rejected the offer, accusing Washington of pursuing “hostile” policies.
North Korea says it needs its arsenal to defend against a US invasion.