Doubts about North Korea's hypersonic missiles 3Doubts about North Korea's hypersonic missiles 3

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) today announced that the Academy of National Defense Sciences had successfully launched the Hwasong-8 hypersonic missile, praising the test as having `great strategic significance` in the context of Pyongyang.

South Korean media quoted an anonymous source from the country’s military as saying that the projectile North Korea had just tested `had different flight characteristics` from previous launches.

However, Chang Young-keun, a missile expert at Korea Aeronautical University, said that North Korea’s test failed, when some Seoul intelligence sources revealed `hypersonic` warheads.

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

`North Korea’s hypersonic gliding warhead (HGV) technology cannot compare with the US, Russia and China. It seems they are focusing on short-range weapons that can threaten South Korea and Japan,`

The only image published by KCNA shows the shape of the Hwasong-8 missile, notably the special nose with large rudder, showing that it seems to have the ability to maneuver and change direction after separating from the booster stage.

`It is possible that the photo was edited by North Korea. If it is real, this shape has many similarities with the hypersonic glide vehicle on China’s DF-17 missile. It could also be a head

Engineless hypersonic warhead models are often launched by intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) to achieve optimal speed and altitude, then the warhead will separate and glide towards the target at high speed.

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

MaRV has similar features to HGV, but has less maneuverability and mainly still flies in a fixed orbit in the middle of the journey.

`There is no indication that the warhead on the Hwasong-8 missile operates as designed. The most basic hypersonic glide vehicles are still extremely complex weapon systems and many capabilities are beyond their capabilities.

Doubts about North Korea's hypersonic missiles

The Hwasong-14 missile was test-launched by North Korea in July 2017.

Experts also assess that the engine structure of the Hwasong-8 is similar 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 was equipped

`It is possible that Hwasong-8 is related to the above two types of missiles. Mupyong Ri launch site is also where the first test of the Hwasong-14 missile took place,` Trevithick said.

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

This means that Pyongyang’s ballistic missiles can carry much larger warheads to attack targets in the region, instead of trying to reach US territory, in the context that both Koreas are following suit.

Lim Eul-chul, a professor at the Institute of Far Eastern Studies at South Korea’s Kyungnam University, said that North Korea seems to be using weapons development projects to gain an advantage in diplomatic negotiations, as well as reform.

`Pyongyang’s recent actions are very predictable. They have signaled military moves and are taking them step by step. More missile tests will continue to be carried out in the near future,` he said.

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