North Korea Fires Missile with Hypersonic Warhead: Report

The missile, named Hwasong-16, is powered by solid fuel
  • bureau
  • 07:34 AM, April 3, 2024
  • 1041
North Korea Fires Missile with Hypersonic Warhead: Report
Test of Hwasong-16 mid-range ballistic missile, powered by solid fuel and carrying a hypersonic warhead, on April 2, 2024 @KCNA

North Korea tested an intermediate-range missile equipped with a hypersonic warhead on Tuesday, according to a report by the state-owned Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The launch was personally overseen by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a suburb of Pyongyang.

The missile, named Hwasong-16, is powered by solid fuel. Kim Jong Un stated that all of North Korea's developed missiles now utilize solid fuel technology and have the capability to carry nuclear warheads.

During the launch, North Korea fired a ballistic missile towards the Sea of Japan. According to the Japanese Defense Ministry, the projectile landed in waters outside Japan's exclusive economic zone. South Korea's military suggested that the projectile might have been a hypersonic weapon, indicating the evolving nature of North Korea's arsenal.

Hypersonic missiles, designed to travel at more than five times the speed of sound, present unique challenges due to their unpredictable trajectories and low-altitude flight paths. Moreover, solid-fuel missiles offer advantages over their liquid-fuel counterparts, as they do not require fueling prior to launch, making detection of launch preparations more difficult.

North Korea Fires Missile with Hypersonic Warhead: Report
Hwasong-16 test on April 2, 2024 @via Twitter

This test follows North Korea's previous announcements regarding advancements in missile technology. In January, the country announced the testing of an intermediate-range ballistic missile equipped with a hypersonic warhead. Last month, a ground test of a solid-fuel jet engine for an intermediate-range hypersonic missile was also reported.

According to KCNA, during Tuesday's test, the hypersonic warhead reached its first peak at a height of 101.1 km and the second at 72.3 km while making a 1,000-km-long flight as scheduled to hit waters in the Sea of Japan. However, the Japanese Defense Ministry had said the missile flew over 650 km.

Despite the launch, KCNA reassured neighboring countries that the test-firing posed no threat to their security.

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