North Korea Launches Missile With Hypersonic Warhead Tip

On Monday, in its quest for more powerful weapons, North Korea fired a new intermediate-range weapon. According to the country’s state media, the solid-fuel missile is equipped with a hypersonic payload.

North Korea’s official news agency, KCNA, said the Sunday launch was intended to test the missile’s solid-fuel engines and hypersonic warhead’s maneuverability.

The North Korean military reportedly told KCNA that the missile, which had been successfully flight-tested, was intended to hit distant U.S. locations, Guam and Japan.

According to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, the missile landed in the seas between the Korean Peninsula and Japan after traveling around 620 miles after liftoff.
The test was characterized as successful in KCNA’s report; however, no details were provided. It occurred one day after the launch site in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea was spotted by the forces of South Korea and Japan.

The military is evaluating the North’s newest test, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff spokeswoman Lee Sung Joon, who refused to provide any details.
The launch comes only two months after Pyongyang announced the successful testing of engines for an intermediate-range ballistic missile powered by solid fuel.

Hypersonic weapons pose a more significant threat to conventional missile detection systems because they are engineered to travel faster than five times the speed of sound. Such systems, if refined, may be able to compete with regional missile defense systems due to their agility and speed.

Current North Korean intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) use liquid-fuel engines, which need to be refueled before launch and do not have the endurance to travel great distances. One such missile, the Hwasong-12, has the potential to reach Guam, a U.S. military base in the Pacific.

Neighbors are understandably worried that further aircraft tests may be conducted shortly. Since Seoul and Washington are facing elections this year, some analysts believe North Korea may attempt to increase pressure.

The defense ministry of the South Korean government has asked the North Korean government to end its missile testing program, which it says violates UN Security Council resolutions.