For the first time, North Korea has tested a newly developed hypersonic missile.
“The Academy of Defence Science of the DPRK test-fired a hypersonic missile Hwasong-8 newly developed by it in Toyang-ri, Ryongrim County of Chagang Province on Tuesday morning,” the KCNA reported Wednesday.
Flying at over Mach 5 (6,120 km/h, or five times faster than the speed of sound), hypersonic missiles are considered next-generation weapons that defeat existing missile defense networks.
This basically means North Korea has been making steady development progress since Daily NK reported that the country was accelerating missile development by establishing a weapons development lab and creating a new college on hypersonic missile technology at Kim Jong Un National Defense University earlier this year.
Daily NK had previously reported that North Korea had established early this year a new “Hypersonic Rocket Research Center” under the Academy of National Defense Science to develop the missiles in earnest. It also reported the establishment of a new college focused on “hypersonic missile technology” at the Kim Jong Un National Defense University.
“In the first test-launch, national defence scientists confirmed the navigational control and stability of the missile in the active section and also its technical specifications including the guiding maneuverability and the gliding flight characteristics of the detached hypersonic gliding warhead,” explained the KCNA. “The test results proved that all the technical specifications met the design requirements.”
It added, “The development of this weapon system which has been regarded as a top priority work under the special care of the Party’s Central Committee is of great strategic significance in markedly boosting the independent power of ultra-modern defence science and technology of the country and in increasing the nation’s capabilities for self-defence in every way.”
Reporting on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s report to the Eighth Party Congress in January, North Korea revealed that “the tasks were brought up to develop and introduce hypersonic gliding flight warheads in a short period.” What North Korea pledged early this year, it has put into practice.
The KCNA also noted that the hypersonic missile test saw North Korea’s first adoption of missile fuel ampoules.
Fuel ampoules are small, airtight glass capsules. They are generally used to protect pharmaceuticals or chemical compounds from contamination. It appears North Korea has developed technology to store liquid rocket fuel in ampoules, which they affix to the missiles. This method could drastically reduce the time it would take to fuel a missile for launch.
Meanwhile, North Korea stressed that its missile development resulted from its own planning targets.
The KCNA reported, “The development of the hypersonic missile, one of 5 top-priority tasks of the five-year plan facing the field of strategic weapon for the development of defence science and weapon system set forth at the 8th Congress of the Party, has been pushed forward according to a sequential, scientific and reliable development process.”
This appears intended to make clear the launch was not a provocation, but a weapons development program pursued for self-defense.
This is in line with recent comments by Vice Department Director of the Central Committee Kim Yo Jong.
In a statement Saturday, Kim said, “The US and south Korean-style double standards towards the DPRK by which the DPRK’s actions of self-defensive dimension to cope with the military circumstances and possible military threats existing on the Korean peninsula are dismissed as threatening ‘provocations’ and their arms buildup are described as the ‘securing of a deterrent to north Korea’ are illogical and childish, and are a blunt disregard of and challenge to the sovereignty of the DPRK.”
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