North Korea successfully tests new hypersonic missile

North Korea successfully fired and tested a newly developed hypersonic missile called Hwasong-8.

North Korea hypersonic missile, Source: Reuters
North Korea hypersonic missile, Source: Reuters

North Korea hypersonic missile: North Korea successfully fired and tested a newly developed hypersonic missile called Hwasong-8 off its east coast on September 28, 2021. The latest launch is North Korea’s third missile test in September 2021. As per state media reports, the Hwasong-8 missile launch was one of the ‘five most important’ new weapon systems in the five-year military development plan of North Korea.

The launch came at a time when the North Korean envoy Kim Song on September 27 during his address at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York urged the US to give up its ‘hostile policy’ towards Pyongyang and defended his country’s right to develop weapons. “North Korea was building up its national defence in order to defend itself and reliably safeguard the security and peace of the country,” said Kim at the UNGA.

North Korea fired new 'hypersonic missile'

State-run media reports termed the Hwasong-8 hypersonic missile as a strategic weapon that would help the country in increasing its defense capabilities by a thousand fold. Hwasong-8 missile reportedly achieved its technical targets, including the gliding flight characteristics and the guiding maneuverability, stated reports.

The launch of the Hwasong-8 missile also saw the introduction of missile fuel ampoule for the first time by North Korea. This technology allows to pre-fuel the missiles before being deployed in the field, stated analysts.

The launch of Hwasong-8 was the third launch of Pyongyang in September 2021 which is indicative of Pyongyang’s steady weapons technology development amid strict US sanctions. It had earlier tested a strategic cruise missile and two railway-borne ballistic missiles.

North Korea's weapons programme

North Korea fired a third missile test in September 2021 in a bid to ramp up its weapons programme. Though, the US has been asking North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. Despite resistance, Pyongyang continues to develop new weapon systems citing the need for self-defense.

In January 2021, North Korea had showcased a new submarine-launched ballistic missile during a military parade. It called it the world’s most powerful weapon. In August 2021, the UN Atomic Agency reported that North Korea has restarted the Yongbyon reactor. In 2017, North Korea conducted its largest nuclear test of its first thermonuclear weapon to date. It is estimated that the explosive power of the weapon will be six times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

What is a hypersonic missile?

Hypersonic missiles are one of the latest next-generation warfare technologies that are being developed by military powers such as the US, Russia, China, and India. Unlike ballistic missiles that return on steep trajectories after flying into outer space, hypersonic missiles fly directly towards targets at lower altitudes and can achieve its targets more than five times the speed of sound which is approximately 6,200 km per hour (3,850 mph).

In July 2021, Russia had announced the successful launch of its hypersonic missile in the White Sea which gained a speed of 8,659.88 km per hour (5,381 mph).

With the launch of the Hwasong-8 hypersonic missile, North Korea has also joined the league of countries in a bid to develop the weapons. The introduction of missile fuel ampoule technology in the Hwasong-8 missile would mean quicker launch as the missile would be pre-fueled before deployment and launch-ready.

However, reports state that the Hwasong-8 hypersonic missile is still at an early stage of development and would need more time to be deployed in combat. As of now, analysts say that the US and South Korea are capable of detecting and intercepting the Hwasong-8 missile.

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