Barely a week into the New Year, North Korea has claimed that it had successfully tested a hypersonic missile as it prepares to modernize its arsenal instead of going back to disarmament talks anytime soon, NPR reported. An English translation of the official release was posted by Josh Smith, a Reuters correspondent on Twitter.
English KCNA report on yesterday's test of a North Korea hypersonic missile, its second after September pic.twitter.com/11UeVK58LB— Josh Smith (@joshjonsmith) January 5, 2022
It was only in September last year that North Korea had claimed of completing a hypersonic missile test. While those reports were dismissed as preliminary and further details were required, Pyongyang, the capital of the country, has quickly followed it up with the release of another missile test image that shows a different design than the one seen in September. Experts told NPR that a second design could mean that North Korea might be working to fit in different types of warheads on this missile or working with two hypersonic missile designs altogether.
The Korean Central News Agency said that that successful launch had "strategic significance", NPR reported. The word strategic implied that it was capable of deploying nuclear warheads.
The test allowed the North Korean authorities to confirm flight control and stability of the missile while also testing the 'lateral movement' on the detached hypersonic gliding warhead. According to NPR, the warhead recorded a lateral movement of 74 miles (120 km) as it aimed for a target located 434 miles (700 km) away.
The statement included various details that could signal North Korea's achievement of a high level of mastery over the technology but they would wait to see if the U.S. and its allies in the region would react with more classified inputs, The Drive reported. If North Korea has managed to pull this off, the high degree of maneuverability of its hypersonic would make it immune to existing air defenses in the region.
North Korea has also referred to verifying the "fuel ampoule system" during this deployment which means that the liquid fuel used by the missile was sealed at production. This allows for rapid deployment even after the missile has been stored for long periods of time, while also reducing its vulnerability to pre-emptive strikes.
We have now seen what North Korea can do in quite imaginative ways.