North says Monday's missiles are in production

이준혁 입력 2022. 1. 18. 18:19 수정 2022. 1. 18. 18:45
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The two missiles North Korea fired from an airfield near Pyongyang Monday morning appeared to be KN-24 tactical guided missiles that are in production for deployment, according to state media on Tuesday.
A photograph of the launch of one of the two missiles launched by North Korea from Sunan Airfield near Pyongyang on Monday, released by North Korea's state-run Korean Central Television on Tuesday. [YONHAP]

The two missiles North Korea fired from an airfield near Pyongyang Monday morning appeared to be KN-24 tactical guided missiles that are in production for deployment, according to state media on Tuesday.

The North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency reported that the Academy of Defense Science supervised the launch of the tactical guided missiles to test their accuracy and efficiency, and that both precisely hit their targets in the eastern waters off the Korean Peninsula.

Descriptions of the “tactical guided missiles” in the state media reports suggested they were KN-24 short-range ballistic missiles, which would be their fourth test by the regime, following two tests in August 2019 and one in March 2020.

The KN-24 is a single-stage missile powered by a solid propellant and launched from a mobile platform. Previous state media reports claim the missile is capable of maneuvering in mid-flight to avoid mid-air interception.

The missile’s flight is controlled by a guidance system that enhances its precision strike capability.

The KCNA’s report said the test was carried out to “selectively evaluate tactical guided missiles being produced and deployed and to verify the accuracy of the weapon system."

Although the KCNA said that “two tactical guided missiles launched in the western area of the DPRK precisely hit an island target in the East Sea,” the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff reported on Monday that the missiles were fired from Sunan airfield in Pyongyang.

The airfield was last used in a test launch of the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile in 2017, which was personally supervised by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

DPRK is an acronym for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the North’s official name.

The JCS said the two missiles flew 380 km (236 miles), reaching a maximum altitude of 42 km.

The test was the fourth in an unusual spate of launches within the last two weeks.

North Korea conducted three other missile tests since the new year, beginning with two separate tests of what it claimed were hypersonic glide missiles on Jan. 5 and 10, followed by a test last Friday of tactical guided missiles fired from train cars.

The reports that the Academy of Defense Science “confirmed the accuracy, security and efficiency of the operation of the weapon system under production” seemed to confirm the previous day’s assessment of the test’s purpose by South Korea and Japan.

A JCS official told reporters on Monday on the condition of anonymity that the South Korean military believed the North performed the test “to verify the missiles' accuracy,” and that the launches were “aimed at enhancing the accuracy of existing short-range ballistic missiles.”

That opinion was shared by Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, who told reporters that “the aim of North Korea’s frequent missile launches is to improve their missile technology.”

BY MICHAEL LEE [lee.junhyuk@joongang.co.kr]

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