Seoul believes Pyongyang still far from perfecting hypersonic missile

Seoul, Jan 7 (EFE).- South Korea said Friday it believes its northern counterpart is still far from perfecting a hypersonic missile, adding that claims of success after the regime’s last test are “exaggerated.”

The South Korean Defense Ministry released its preliminary analysis of Wednesday’s launch, in which, according to its calculations, the projectile traveled less than 700 kilometers at a maximum speed of Mach 6 (six times the speed of sound), at an altitude of less than 50 kilometers, state news agency Yonhap reported.

These data differ from the official report published by the North Korean state news agency KCNA, which said the missile hit a target 700 kilometers away and made a “lateral movement of 120 kilometers.”

“The North’s claims about the missile’s capabilities, such as its operational range and lateral movement, seem exaggerated,” the Seoul ministry said in a statement, which believes the regime “has yet to achieve the technology for a hypersonic flight missile vehicle.”

Although the latest missile tested met the speed requirement of a hypersonic projectile (exceeding Mach 5), South Korea said the device does not fit into either of the two widely recognized categories of hypersonic missile: the hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) and the hypersonic cruise missile (HCM).

The photo of the projectile published by the North Korean media shows it is a missile with a maneuverable reentry vehicle (MaRV) or “sliding warhead,” as described by the regime.

“Any ballistic missile with a range of more than 500 kilometers can fly at Mach 5, which would mean that any ballistic missile with that operational range could be classified as hypersonic,” military sources told Yonhap. They said they consider the general consensus to define a hypersonic is for it to be an HGV or HCM.

While in Pyongyang’s proclaimed first test of a hypersonic missile in September the missile appeared to be an HGV, the most recent test appeared to be a general ballistic missile, the sources added.

Seoul and Washington are still conducting more detailed analyzes to learn more. EFE


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