North Korea tests its own version of U.S.’ ATACMS successfully

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attended the successful test-firing of a new tactical guided missile, which will help improve the effectiveness of tactical nuclear operations, Pyongyang’s state media reported on Sunday.

    According to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the new missile system is “of great significance in drastically improving the firepower of the frontline long-range artillery units and enhancing the efficiency in the operation of the DPRK’s tactical nukes and diversification of their firepower missions.”

    North Korea tests successfully its own version of U.S.’ ATACMS

    “The test-fire was carried out successfully,” it said, without revealing any additional information about the weapon in question, such as its type.

    The military of South Korea subsequently stated it detected the North’s launch of two projectiles into the East Sea at 6 p.m. Saturday. They flew 110 kilometers at a high speed of Mach 4, with an apogee of roughly 25 kilometers.

    According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the presidential National Security Office, military, and intelligence agencies conducted an emergency meeting shortly after the launch to discuss it.

    According to local observers, the North appears to have tested a newly built heavy artillery system or improved KN-23 missiles, which are the North’s counterpart of the US Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).

    North Korea tests successfully its own version of U.S.' ATACMS
    North Korea tests successfully its own version of U.S.’ ATACMS

    The transporter erector launcher (TEL) has two tubes, according to photos supplied by the KCNA, and the tactical weapon itself resembles the KN-23 missile, which is based on Russia’s Iskander ballistic missile. The missile could have been modified by the North to accommodate several TEL tubes.

    The KN-23 has a flight range of 400 to 600 kilometers, allowing it to attack South Korea. Rather than flying in a straight line, the missile takes a more convoluted path by performing a so-called pull-up maneuver during its flight.

    Inspecting the launch, Kim gave important advice about “further building up the country’s defense capabilities and nuclear combat forces.”

    Kim lauded the national defense scientific research sector for its “continuous successes in attaining the core goals of securing the war deterrent” set forth at the party’s eighth congress last year.

    He went on to say that the ruling party’s central committee’s long-term goal is to improve the country’s defense capability.

    North Korea unveiled intentions to expand its weapons capabilities during the Workers’ Party congress in January, including the development of tactical nuclear weapons, hypersonic gliding aircraft warheads, nuclear-powered submarines, and reconnaissance satellites.

    The North’s newest test-launch comes as South Korea and the US prepare to begin their big springtime military drill exercises on Monday. There are growing fears that Pyongyang will conduct another nuclear test soon.

    It’s the country’s 13th known projectile flight test this year, and the first since Pyongyang fired a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) last month, according to Pyongyang.

    On Friday, the North celebrated the 110th birthday of its founder, Kim Il-sung, with large-scale celebrations, but no military march has been reported.

    Image Credit: Yonhap

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