North Korea said on Friday it launched a newly-developed anti-aircraft missile – the latest in a series of weapon tests.
It is the country’s fourth missile launch this year, even though it has expressed willingness to thaw relations with South Korea.
North Korea tested the anti-aircraft missile for multi-purpose weapon performance, state media KCNA reported. The test was to confirm the practical functionality of the launcher, radar and all-purpose battle command vehicle, as well as the combat performance of the missile.
An undated picture of the test launch released by hermit state on Thursday showed a sleek missile being fired from a vehicle parked in a barren field. It was fired from a tube-like structure on the vehicles, which resembled weapons the North showcased in its last two military parades in October 2020 and January this year.
The test was carried out by North Korea’s Academy of Defence Science in the presence of North Korean marshal Pak Jong-chon.
South Korea, Japan and the United States typically publicly confirm North Korean ballistic missile launches, which are banned by UN resolutions, soon after they occur. But they did not do so for Thursday’s, indicating the weapon tested may have been a different kind.
Seoul’s joint chiefs of staff said Friday that South Korean and US intelligence authorities monitored moves by North Korea but didn’t elaborate.
Kim Dong-yub, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said the launch appears to be the primitive stage of a test to develop a missile designed to shoot down incoming enemy missiles and aircraft.
He said the missile resembles the Russian-made S-400 air defence system, which he said has a maximum range of 250 miles and is reportedly capable of intercepting stealth jets.
With this fresh arsenal, North Korea said it can down air targets with new key technologies like twin-rudder control and double-impulse flight engine, according to KCNA.
It said it introduced a “substantial increase in the rapid responsiveness and guidance accuracy of the missile control system”.
On 28 September North Korea fired a hypersonic missile, which has flight characteristics of the “detached hypersonic gliding warhead”.
Earlier this month, North Korea sprung a surprise when it fired ballistic missiles and a railway-borne cruise missile with nuclear capabilities that can serve as a “harsh blow” to enemies, provoking strong condemnation from its neighbours Japan and South Korea.
The two countries confirmed the missiles landed on their territory. The “outrageous” missile launches by the North are in direct violation of United Nations resolutions and pose a direct threat to the region, the two countries said.
Pyongyang has argued the weapons tests are a way to boost its self-defence capabilities, just like other armed nations.
Kim Jong-un-led North Korea has accused its southern neighbour of double standards and hostile policy.
Additional reporting from wires