North Korea Continues to Test Hypersonic Weapons

North Korea carried out its second ballistic missile test in six days yesterday, with the latest appearing to be a hypersonic weapon that traveled a reported 430 miles at a speed of Mach 10, underscoring the country’s recent advancements in the global hypersonic arms race. While the DPRK claimed the first launch last Wednesday was also a hypersonic missile, SouthKorea says it only traveled at a speed of Mach 6. The launch yesterday led the FAA in the United States to briefly ground all flights on the west coast. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff called the latest launch a “grave threat to international peace and stability.”

On 22 January 2021 North Korea launched an unknown cruise missile in Kusong city. At that time this missile was assessed as an anti-ship cruise missile. But later renamed as ‘KN-27’.

On 21 March 2021, North Korea again launched an unknown cruise missile in Onchon county. At that time this missile was assessed as an anti-ship cruise missile, later recognized as ‘KN-27’. North Korea carried out a test-launch of two upgraded KN-23 short-range ballistic missiles carrying a 2.5-ton live warhead each that correctly hit the simulated targets. While North Korea’s official statement reported a 600 km range, Japanese and South Korean sources reported that the missiles flew just over 400 km. Later, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff revised their range assessment of the new North Korean missile to 600 km and the Defense Minister said that blind spots due to earth curvature led to an initial estimate of 450 km.

On 11–12 September 2021, North Korea carried out tests of a new long-range cruise missile, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). The missiles flew for 1,500 kilometers and successfully hit their target in North Korea’s waters, and were meant for a “strategic role” according to the news agency, which analyst Ankit Panda stated was a common euphemism for a missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

On 15 September 2021, North Korea fired two ballistic missiles off of its coast according to the South Korean military.

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