North Korea plays same game – next rocket weapon tests

 

North Korea seems to develop ICBM missiles successfully and probably faster than it was predicted by western analysts.

This time on 15 March 2016 North Korea decided (it would be more accurate to say that Supreme Leader decided) to perform two test launches of their medium range ballistic missile. Rockets were launched from Sukch'ŏn County in South P'yŏngan near capital of North Korea - P'yŏngan. According to South Korean military authorities two ballistic rockets were launched. First was launched at 05:55 in the morning local time on 17 March 2016. It flew 1200 km and felt into Sea of Japan. Second was launched 22 minutes later and it was tracked until it reached altitude of 17000 m and eventually disappeared from radars. Launch was confirmed by South Korean radar stations and Japan Self-Defense Forces. According to official press statement presented by US Bureau of Public Affairs, USA are calling North Korea to resign from every action which are raising tension in region and on the Korea Peninsula. It seems that Supreme Leader and his generals decided to something opposite.

Yesterday according to Reuters, North Korea performed successful trial of solid fueled rocket engine for ICBM. If we combine it with launches performed on 17 March we have serious threat in Asia - North Korea is again developing their rocket program unfortunatly with success. This time modernization refers to propulsion. All ICBM which are remaining in service in North Korea are liquid fueled - extremely slow in launching and not very suitable for rapid use. Military is going to replace liquid fueled propulsion with reliable and easy to use solid fueled propulsion. Today it was announced by official media in DPRK informed about solid fueled engine test. Official newspaper of ruling Workers' Party of Korea - The Rodong Sinmum published picture taken probably during tests of the engine - with detailed description and data referring to results. Tests were performed successfully, but it is not known when and in which rocket engine will be adopted. It is possible that first rocket upgraded with new engine will be KN-08 rocket.  It is one of the most recent North Korean missiles - highly mobile, launched from wheeled TEL ICBM. Their TEL is adopted Chinese WS51200 trucks imported by North Korea for civilian usage. Rocket was presented on different military parades but only as a replica. It was spotted, that rocket is probably based on 3 stages with diameter at 1.9 m for first two and 1.25 m for the third stage. Length was described as around 17 m. Most recent rockets were showed on parade in the 70th anniversary of the founding of Korean Workers Party on 11 October 2015. They were rather consisting two stages than three. Possible warhead could be armed in nuclear bomb with destructive power fitting in the range from 100 kT up to 10 Mt. On March 15 2016, according to official North Korean media, nose cone from KN-08 was tested with vertical engine test station to simulate conditions of the reentry to atmosphere. Such cone is mounted on the top of the warhead, which lifted to Earth orbit reenters over target. According to western intelligence specialists pictures were taken close to one of the main rocket facilities and rocket factories in North Korea located in  Chamjin, southwest of Pyongyang. Satellite flying over North Korea provided pictures which are confirming intensive movement around factory and various preparing which are confirming results of the analysis of official pictures. It could be possible confirmation that KN-08 is under modernization and tests before possible next test launch with new solid fueled propulsion. It would be serious change in DPRK status - in spite of manufacturing liquid fueled and not very reliable ICBM rockets, they would prove their ability for modifying weapon and increase their military potential with adopting more advanced technologies. Surely it would not be good news for USA and China which were rather considering DPRK as threat but not really dangerous in the world scale. Now after adopting hard in manufacturing and demanding in terms of technology new kind of propulsion without any support from outside, North Korea could be considered as able to develop their weapon to next level - for example extending their range cover something more than west coast of the USA.

Sources:
http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/03/254821.htm
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-nuclear-idUSKCN0WP320
http://www.kcna.kp/kcna.user.special.getArticlePage.kcmsf
http://38north.org/2016/03/chamjin032316/