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North Korea races for hypersonic weapons

North Korea races for hypersonic weapons 2

North Korea races for hypersonic weapons

North Korea’s Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 29 announced that the Academy of Defense Sciences had successfully launched the Hwasong-8 hypersonic missile, praising the test as having `great strategic significance`.

Hypersonic missiles are weapons with a minimum speed of 5 times that of sound (Mach 5), equivalent to more than 6,200 km/h.

Ballistic missiles carrying Avangard hypersonic warheads are inserted into the launch well.

High speed, maneuverability and low flight path in the atmosphere make hypersonic weapons very difficult to track and intercept compared to traditional ballistic missiles, posing a great challenge to all modern air defense networks.

Thanks to its extremely high speed, hypersonic missiles can fly to their targets very quickly, leaving the enemy with little time to react and unable to deploy interception or evacuation forces.

Hypersonic missiles can carry nuclear or conventional warheads, enough to change the strategic balance in the region and the world.

Countries that possess hypersonic missiles

Russia is considered a leading country in hypersonic weapons technology, with a series of missile models that have been developed and manufactured.

Moscow is also testing at the state level the Zircon hypersonic missile launched from surface ships and submarines, capable of reaching speeds of Mach 7.

The US and China are also racing fiercely to deploy hypersonic weapons.

The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Raytheon Corporation last week also test-fired a hypersonic weapon using a naturally aspirated engine (HAWC) for the first time, said the projectile.

North Korea races for hypersonic weapons

AGM-183A missile model under the wing of a US B-52 aircraft after a test flight in August 2020.

China in 2019 launched the DF-17 ballistic missile, said to be one of the first hypersonic weapons in the world and powerful enough to penetrate US missile defenses in the region.

What weapons is North Korea really testing?

Not much is known about the Hwasong-8 missile and the warhead it carries.

Pyongyang did not reveal the speed of the warhead, saying the missile was equipped with a closed-tube liquid refueling system, helping to significantly shorten preparation time and ensure safety for the launch pad area.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) estimated that the North Korean projectile reached a speed of more than 3,700 km/h, three times the speed of sound, but refused to disclose detailed information such as flight range and speed.

The South Korean military usually quickly detects and reports North Korea’s ballistic missile tests just a few minutes after the projectile leaves the platform, but this time it did not announce the missile’s altitude and range as usual.

What impact does it have?

Many experts believe that hypersonic missiles only have certain advantages and will hardly create a revolution in weapons.

`There is reason to think that North Korea developed this type of missile to counter the US,` Cheong Seong-chang, director of the Center for North Korea Studies at the Sejong Institute in South Korea, commented, adding that Pyongyang has

North Korea races for hypersonic weapons

The Hwasong-8 missile left the launch pad during a test on September 28.

The engine structure of the Hwasong-8 has many similarities to the long-range ballistic missile Hwasong-12 and the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 tested by North Korea in 2017, in which the projectile is equipped with an engine.

Hwasong-12 and Hwasong-14 are both large missiles, capable of carrying many types of warheads of different designs and sizes.

According to expert Cheong, the weapon North Korea just tested is only a short-range missile, but Pyongyang can pursue a project to develop medium- and long-range attack capabilities with hypersonic missiles.

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