Pyongyang claims to have fired solid-fuel hypersonic missile

Seoul, Jan 15 (EFE).- North Korea said Monday it launched a solid-fuel intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) carrying a hypersonic warhead the previous day, according to state media.

“The test-fire was aimed at verifying the gliding and maneuvering characteristics of intermediate-range hypersonic maneuverable controlled warhead and the reliability of newly developed multi-stage high-thrust solid-fuel engines,” KCNA reported, adding that Sunday’s test was “successfully conducted.”

KCNA did not indicate the presence of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during the launch, carried out by the recently created Missile General Bureau, a detail that some analysts consider indicates that the missile may be in an early phase of development.

The North Korean state news agency only published a photo of the projectile, apparently launched from one of Kim’s compounds northeast of Pyongyang, the same place from which the Hwasong-18 solid-fuel intercontinental-range ballistic missile (ICBM) has been fired twice.

Pyongyang already supposedly tested in 2021 and 2022 hypersonic liquid-fuel missiles equipped with highly maneuverable warheads similar to that seen on the missile launched on Sunday.

In turn, the regime tested the two solid fuel engines apparently used in this new missile on test benches in mid-November, for which Seoul had repeatedly warned about the possibility of a first flight test, and it is even believed that a failed launch carried out on Nov. 23 could correspond to this projectile.

Unlike liquid fuel, solid fuel allows the missile to be stored already loaded with propellant, which allows for faster deployment when launching and makes it more difficult for the projectile to be destroyed by a preventive attack.

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said on Sunday that the missile flew about 1,000 kilometers before falling into the Sea of Japan, although the data provided by the Japanese army differs substantially, since Tokyo indicated that it flew about 500 kilometers, reaching a height of 50 kilometers, and that it fell into the water about 12 minutes after takeoff.

After the North Korean announcement on Monday, the JCS said in a statement that this latest launch violates United Nations resolutions that prohibit the use of ballistic missile technology by Pyongyang and warned that it will respond overwhelmingly if the North chooses to carry out a direct provocation. EFE


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