North Korea’s armed forces have carried out a new test of a superheavy rocket artillery system, firing two projectiles into the Sea of Japan on October 31st. The unnamed new system is the largest of its kind in the world, surpassing the range of the previously record holding KN-09 artillery system which is also of North Korean origin. The KN-09 previously held a maximum range of around 200km, and the new system’s range is thought to significantly exceed 300km.
The state broadcaster Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) stated that the armed forces had successfully tested “super-large multiple rocket launchers” which demonstrated the ability “totally destroy” enemy targets at range using a formidable “continuous-fire system.” The new artillery system is the latest of a number of new Korean tactical platforms tested in 2019, alongside two short ranged tactical ballistic missile systems one resembling the Russian Iskander and the other the American MGM-104.
The former has been designated KN-23 by the U.S. military and is capable of advanced in-flight manoeuvring and impacting targets at hypersonic speeds, while the latter’s designation remains unknown. The missiles have provided an improved capability for striking targets across South Korea and Japan, including airbases deploying new F-35 stealth fighters which are expected to become priority targets.
Pyongyang previously vowed to respond to the deployment of the F-35A to the peninsula shortly before beginning testing of new missile and artillery systems, and the aircraft is considered particularly vulnerable to attacks on airbases due to its low sortie rate and considerable amount of time spent on the ground as well as its requirements for fully pristine runways to operate.
Deploying longer ranged rocket artillery systems allows North Korean forces to threaten American and South Korean assets deeper into South Korean territory, and complements advances in ballistic missile technology and new means being developed for infiltration of special forces all of which are intended to disable enemy forces by neutralising key targets in a war’s early stages.
It remains unclear what payload the new rockets carry and at what speeds they are able to impact their targets, but with a range exceeding that of many ballistic missile classes the platform’s deployment is likely to shift the balance of power on the Peninsula in Pyongyang’s favour.
Credits: MW Mag