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North Korea is testing a new tactical ballistic missile with an autonomous navigation system

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar May19,2024

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North Korea has announced a test launch of a tactical ballistic missile equipped with a new autonomous navigation system, describing it as part of efforts to strengthen its military capabilities. According to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the test, although specific details such as the number of missiles fired were not released.

Details

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that the accuracy and reliability of the new autonomous navigation system were confirmed by test firings. The South Korean military also detected the launch, identifying it as several short-range ballistic missiles fired from Wonsan, a city on North Korea's east coast. The missiles reportedly flew about 300 kilometers before landing in the East Sea.

This recent test indicates progress in North Korean missile technology. The range of North Korea's tactical guided weapons was previously believed to be between 100 and 110 kilometers. Shin Jung-woo, a senior researcher at the Korea Defense and Security Forum, said the 300-kilometer range suggests the missiles could target significant military targets in South Korea. The tests are part of North Korea's regular measures to improve its weapons systems, North Korea's Main Missile Directorate reports.

The test follows joint formation exercises conducted by the US and South Korea at Kunsan Air Base, which North Korea says has "sparked war fever" with an average of 100 departures per day. The exercises, which ran from April 12 to 26, were presented as targeting North Korea. In addition, there were reports on Thursday of a joint air exercise between US and South Korean forces (SOF), which allegedly aimed to quickly penetrate any region to eliminate a target.

The exercise, called Korea Flying Training 2024 (KFT 24), involved personnel and aircraft from the US Army, US Air Force, US Marine Corps and Republic of Korea Air Force. It was part of the 7th Air Force's annual exercise schedule, highlighting the strength of the Korea-US alliance. Various aircraft were on display during KFT 24, including the F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-35B Lightning II, A-10 Thunderbolt II, E-3 Sentries and others from the US and ROKAF. The exercises were aimed at improving interoperability, readiness, and lethality, demonstrating the joint forces' ability to deter, defend, and defeat any potential adversary.

North Korea's increased military activity, including recent launches of cruise missiles, tactical missiles, and hypersonic weapons, is a strategic display of its capabilities, as well as a response to these perceived threats from the United States and South Korea. Since January 2024, North Korea has introduced several new weapons systems, such as a new 240 mm multiple rocket launcher system in February. In March, North Korea introduced the M2024 main battle tank, an upgraded version of the M2020 model. The new tank incorporates advanced technology inspired by the American M1A2 Abrams and the Russian T-14 Armata, including improved dynamic armor and anti-tank guided missile systems.

In April, North Korea tested a new Hwasong-16B hypersonic missile. A hypersonic rocket with a solid fuel engine — replacing previous liquid fuel engines. The tests were intended to test the technical characteristics and reliability of the missile system.

In addition, as reported on May 16, 2024, North Korea also increased production of ballistic missiles, including the Hwasong-11D, following a possible request from Russia as North Korea has recently delivered various military equipment to support Russian operations in Ukraine. The Hwasong-11D, a modified version of the KN-23 missile, has a range of 100 to 180 kilometers and has a quasi-ballistic trajectory to improve accuracy and evade missile defenses. State media reported the development of new tactical missile systems for the Korean People's Army, expected to be ready by the end of the year, which are aimed at increasing combat readiness.

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my natasha@thetimeshub.in 1-800-268-7116

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