South Korea’s military confirmed on Monday that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)’s development of a new road-mobile intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), based on a technology of submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).
An unnamed official of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) held a separate press briefing, saying what was test-fired by the DPRK was a new solid fuel-powered IRBM based on SLBM technology, according to local media reports.
The DPRK test-launched a ballistic missile, which it called Pukguksong-2, from the country’s western region early Sunday. It flew east towards the East Sea for 500 km after blasting off at an altitude of 550 km.
Following the launch, the JCS said on Sunday that it could be an advanced version of intermediate-range Musudan ballistic missile, which soared as high as 1,413.6 km and traveled 500 km during a test-flight on June 22 last year.
The Seoul military changed the Sunday assessment, saying top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un probably instructed the development of a longer-range ground-based missile based on technology of the SLBM, which was test-launched in August last year.
The new DPRK missile was fired from a crawler-type mobile launcher, and the South Korean military put its range at anything between those of SLBM and Musudan missiles.
The DPRK-owned SLBM is believed to have a range of 2,000-2,500 km, with the estimation of Musudan range put at 3,000-3,500 km. The Pukguksong-2 may have a range of 2,500-3,000 km.
Musudan, dubbed Hwasong 10 by the DPRK, is known to put the entire territories of South Korea and Japan as well as U.S. military base in Guam in its target range.
The Sunday launch may mean the DPRK’s development of a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in addition to KN-08, called Hwasong-13 in the DPRK.
The KN-08 was displayed for the first time during a 2012 military parade, but it has yet to be publicly tested. The DPRK is believed to have its upgraded version called KN-14, which also hasn’t been tested before.
The DPRK had been estimated to test the KN-08 or the KN-14 in the near future as top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un said in his New Year’s Day speech that his country was at a final stage to prepare for an ICBM test-launch.
The new rocket engine, which the DPRK tested in September last year, was believed to be used for the ICBMs or Musudan missiles. Some estimate the first-stage propellant of the ICBMs may be composed of four engines used for Musudan missiles.
The advent of Pukguksong-2, which is based on SLBM technology, may indicate the development of an upgraded ICBM version based on the new IRBM technology.
The DPRK’s KCNA news agency said the Sunday launch re-confirmed the separation of vehicles at the stages and verified the position control and guidance in the midcourse and reentry sections.
It took the DPRK just six months to develop the surface-to-surface IRBM following a successful test in August last year of the SLBM, called Pukguksong-1 by the DPRK. Enditem