(CTN NEWS) – Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, supervised testing of a “high-thrust solid-fuel engine” for a new strategic weapon, according to state media on Friday.
This discovery could enable him to have a more mobile, difficult-to-detect arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles that could reach the U.S. mainland.
According to the official Korean Central News Agency, Thursday’s “static fire test” of a missile engine at the nation’s northwest rocket launch facility was the first in North Korea.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has successfully conducted a test to verify the "high-thrust solid-fuel motor" being designed for integration into a "new strategic weapon system," according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Friday.
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A “sure sci-tech assurance for the creation of another new-type strategic weapon system” was offered by the test, it was stated.
According to KCNA, Kim thanked scientists and technicians for the test and anticipated the new weapon would be constructed “in the shortest amount of time.”
North Korea is most likely referring to a solid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), one of several cutting-edge weapons systems that Kim promised to unveil at a significant Workers’ Party congress early last year.
kcna photos pic.twitter.com/AzJXHScZDM
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Kim also pledged to produce a multi-warhead missile, nuclear missiles fired from submarines, and surveillance satellites.
The most recent motor test demonstrated North Korea’s will to fulfill Kim’s promises to create such advanced missile systems despite domestic hardships brought on by the pandemic.
And international pressure from the United States to scale back its nuclear program.
North Korea has recently conducted numerous nuclear-capable ballistic missile tests, including the launch of its Hwasong-17 ICBM, which has the largest range and can carry multiple warheads, last month.
According to some experts, North Korea might eventually utilize a larger arsenal to pressure the United States for sanctions relief and other benefits.
“It’s been a while since a test of this kind was expected.”
Ankit Panda, an expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, stated that “large-diameter solid propellant rocket motors will allow North Korea to deploy bigger submarine-launched missiles.”
And, more crucially, more resilient and responsive intercontinental-range ballistic missiles.”
— Ankit Panda (@nktpnd) December 16, 2022
“Solid propellant missiles are fueled at the time of manufacture and, all other things being equal, can be launched far more swiftly in a fight,” according to Panda.
Before beginning flight testing, “I wouldn’t be shocked if they looked to perform extra testing and development of these motors.”
Solid-propellant rockets have their fuel pre-loaded within, which reduces launch preparation time, boosts the weapon’s mobility, and makes it more difficult for observers to observe what is happening before liftoff.
North Korea is already using short-range, solid-fueled ballistic missiles with increasing armament to hit important South Korean targets, such as American military installations.
According to the KCNA report, the test on Thursday was to confirm particular technical aspects of the high-thrust solid-fuel engine based on thrust vector controlling technology.
It claimed that all technical indicators demonstrated by the test results demonstrated its dependability and stability.
The International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Joseph Dempsey, a research associate for defense and military studies, said it was challenging to evaluate the thrust output North Korea claimed to have.
Nevertheless, he added, “What is potentially important is the stated ‘thrust vector regulating technology,’ with pictures suggesting gimbaled exhaust nozzle which can effectively steer the missile.”
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He claimed that the approach of thrust vectoring is far more sophisticated than one previously applied to the North’s solid-motor missiles.
According to Dempsey, testing a gimbaled nozzle may be a crucial technological step toward North Korea‘s declared objective of developing a solid motor ICBM.
It is uncertain, however, what other technical obstacles still need to be overcome and when a flying test for such a device will take place.
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