North Korea Tests New Military Missiles and Stealth High Speed Boat
D-Bo , Feb. 9, 2015, 10:25 a.m.
North Korea has unveiled a new ship-to-ship missile and a new stealth high-speed boat to carry them. The official North Korean media on Saturday carried photos of the new boat firing the missile as leader Kim Jong-un looked on. "Scientists, engineers and workers in the munitions industry have succeeded in developing a new anti-ship rocket at a cutting-edge level," the Rodong Sinmun daily said.
A military source here said the missile was fired on Friday afternoon from near Wonsan on the east coast and flew some 100 km. It is believed to be a KN-01-class missile copied from Russia's Kh-35 Uran missile. Russia sold the Kh-35 to Burma, India and Vietnam in the mid-1990s. It is 3.85 m long, weighs 480 kg with a payload of 145 kg, and has a 42 cm diameter and a maximum range of some 130 km.
It can be fired from an aircraft or the ground as well as from a ship. The North is believed to have already test-fired it from an aircraft several times last year. North Korea experts here speculate that the North reassembled the missiles after secretly buying them from Russia or a third country.
The missile is hard to detect with radars or intercept as it can fly at a speed of 300 m/s at a low altitude of about 15 m and launch a surprise strike on a target at an even lower altitude of 3 to 5 m when it comes near. It threatens South Korean Navy's ships guarding the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border.
"The South Korean Navy has so far focused on how to respond to the threat from North Korean submarines because the North has many old ships that are susceptible to detection by radar," the military source said. "But recently unveiled North Korean vessels such as stealth high-speed boats and wave-piercing boats carrying torpedoes are posing a new threat."
On Sunday afternoon, the North fired another five short-range projectiles, a spokesman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff here said. They flew some 200 km in a northeasterly direction over the East Sea. These are thought to be a new tactical missile with a range of about 230 km, an improved version of the KN-02 short-range ground-to-ground missile. The North is apparently cranking up the missile tests ahead of joint South Korea-U.S. exercises that start early next month, military authorities speculate.