North Korea Hwasong-12 missile

North Korea launched its Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile on January 30, 2022.

Highlights

  • Month of January was one of the busiest months of missile tests for North Korea.
  • With the launch of Hwasong-12, the country highlights efforts of ensuring its reliable systems for delivery of nuclear warheads.
  • Testing schedule started with the launch of new “hypersonic missile,” and later included long-range cruise missiles, short-range ballistic missiles which were launched from railcars & airports and underscoring its rapidly expanding and advancing arsenal in the midst of stalled denuclearisation talks.

Background

North Korea hasn’t tested its nuclear weapon or longest-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) since 2017. However, launch of Hwasong-12 signalled it could soon start such testing.

Weapons tested in January 2022

  1. Hypersonic Missile– North Korea tested new type of “hypersonic missile” on January 5. The second launch was conducted on January 11. Hypersonic weapons fly towards targets at lower altitudes as compared to ballistic missiles. They can achieve more than five times the speed of sound. The main feature of hypersonic weapons is their manoeuvrability, which can help them in evading missile defence systems.
  2. KN-23 SRBM– North Korea launched a pair of Short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) on January 14. It was launched from a train near its northern border with China. Despite limited and unreliable rail network in North Korea, rail mobile missiles are efficient and relatively cheap option for improving survivability of their nuclear forces.
  3. KN-24 SRBM– On January 17, it launched two SRBMs in a rare test from an airport in Pyongyang. Missiles precisely hit an island target, off the east coast. The KN-24 is similar to U.S. MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS). It is designed to evade missile defences by flying on a flatter trajectory.
  4. Long-Range Cruise Missile- Country test-fired two long-range cruise missiles on January 25, which travelled for 1,800 km before hitting a target island.

Hwasong-12

Israel had first launched the Hwasong-12 IRBM in April 2017. It launched two more Hwasong-12s in 2017, after the success of first launch. In the recent test, missile was test-fired on an elevated trajectory. Missile reached an altitude of about 2,000 km and flew for a distance of 800 km. It has an estimated range of 4,500 kms.

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