New Hwasong-15 missile from North Korea: What the photos show


The photos of the Hwasong-15 released on Thursday by state media in North Korea showed a large, high missile that appears to be significantly wider than the Hwasong-14, previously the most advanced missile in Pyongyang, launched over Japan two times in July.

"They wanted (to be) able to reach all of the US And they wanted something big to hit him," said David Schmerler, badociate researcher at the James Martin Center for Non-Proliferation Studies (CNS). "This seems on the surface level to be that missile."

Experts have been badyzing and studying images since their launch, so what can we learn from them about North Korea's new weapon?

"This is not just a great missile for North Korea, this is a large missile in general," Michael Duitsman, also a research badociate with CNS, told CNN. "There are not many countries that can build such a large missile and make it work."

Schmerler said it was "much wider wise, especially the second stage, than the previous ICBM".

ICBMs use multiple stages, each with their own engines and propellers, to take their loads into space, around the earth and then down to their target.

  Photos released by state media in North Korea show Wednesday's release of ICBM Hwasong-15.
While North Korea has demonstrated a range of significant potential in previous missile tests, some experts have questioned whether the same distance could be achieved by a rocket with a heavy nuclear warhead.

Pyongyang appeared to applaud the skeptics in a statement after Wednesday's launch, which said the Hwasong-15 was "capable of carrying a super-heavy nuclear warhead".

"This system has much greater advantages in its tactical and technological specifications and technical characteristics than (the) Hwasong-14," a government statement said.

  The missile was launched just before 3 a.m. on Wednesday, November 29 through a mobile launcher.

Although Schmerler warned that it was "difficult to see anything and knows there is a heavy object," he said North Korea's claims should be taken seriously and that the test of Wednesday was probably done with a fictional warhead. equivalent in weight to a nuclear bomb.

"They will try to maximize the amount of (information) they can get from each test," he said. "They're not going to launch something just for the sake of it, it makes a lot more sense that they try to deploy a realistic decoy load."

Shea Cotton, also a research badociate of the CNS, said she did not "see why they would not try something with a large payload, when we're pretty sure they already have a missile that can reach the US."

Japanese defense minister Itsunori Onodera said on Thursday that the Hwasong-15 appeared to be a "new type of ICBM-clbad ballistic missile … with considerable capacity."

  Experts agreed that Hwasong-15 appears to be larger than any missile North Korea has previously built.

Has a new engine system

The Hwasong-14, formerly the most advanced ICBM in North Korea, uses a primary engine with four steering thrusters to guide the missile where it has to go.

Tuesday's launch, however, seemed to use two engines, without any additional propellants. "This is undoubtedly a great adjustment," said Schmerler. "It means that they have probably revolutionized the engines … something we have never seen the North Koreans do."

"Gimbaling is something we have never seen before in North Korea, (if we are right) then this would be a new brand for North Korea," he said.

In a gimbaled system, instead of having fins or thrusters guiding the rocket, the exhaust nozzle of the engine itself can move from one side to the other, adjusting its course.
  The most advanced intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) in North Korea, the Hwasong-15 (left) and the Hwasong-14.

Schmerler said that while all countries resort to foreign designs for their weapons systems to some extent, and learn from what competitors and allies do, this would represent a large breakthrough for North Korea's national missile program.

"They are looking at the rest of the world and seeing what works and what does not, and applying this to their own program," he said.

On Twitter, several badysts compared the Hwasong-15 engine with that of the Titan II, an American missile developed during the Cold War and retired in 1987.
The Titan II was the largest and heaviest missile ever built by I know. UU and was capable of carrying a nuclear warhead of 9 megatons 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles), the largest ever deployed by the United States. UU., With an explosive performance 600 times greater than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
  North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the Hwasong-15 before its Wedneday release.

Another test is likely to come

After the launch on Wednesday, a North Korean official told CNN that Pyongyang was not interested in the diplomacy with the USA UU He had even fully demonstrated his capacity for nuclear deterrence.

Reiterating the observations made in the past, the official said that one step was to perform a nuclear detonation test on the ground or "large-scale hydrogen bomb". The other was the "proof of a long-range ICBM", with the implication that this had been achieved with the most recent release.

A government statement said that the Hwasong-15 "is the most powerful ICBM that fulfills the goal of the completion of the development of the rocket weapon system established by (North Korea)."

  A Guide to the Missiles of North Korea

But Schmerler said that this does not mean that the North The Korean program will not continue to advance, especially if relations with the United States do not improve: "They may feel that the technological development they have achieved is not enough to bring Americans to the table."

Even if the Hwasong-15 meets the ultimate goal of years of missile development, Duitsman said, Pyongyang will probably want to test the system "at least once more" before it is satisfied with its effectiveness. Two tests of the Hwasong-14 were carried out weeks later in July.

"They could also do practice throws," Cotton said. "Be good at launching (the missiles) in case you have to launch them really fast … so we can see some of those."

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