[Newsmaker] N. Korea’s short-range projectiles possibly ‘super-large MRLS’ or ATACMS: experts

By Jo He-rim
  • Published : Sept 10, 2019 - 17:33
  • Updated : Sept 10, 2019 - 17:35

North Korea on Tuesday fired two short-range projectiles from its northwestern area toward the East Sea, its 10th launch this year, South Korea’s military said.

According to Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pyongyang fired the projectiles from Kaechon, South Pyongan Province, at 6:53 a.m. and 7:12 a.m., with one of the projectiles flying 330 kilometers east.

The JCS did not provide further details such as the altitude and speed of the projectiles launched, saying it is analyzing the information with the US intelligence authorities. However, both projectiles are believed to have flown at an altitude of about 50 to 60 kilometers, and the other projectile is said to have flown a shorter distance. 

A missile is fired during the test of a multiple rocket launcher in this undated photo released on Aug. 25. (Yonhap)

North Korea test fires a new weapon, in this undated photo released on Aug.11. (Yonhap)

While further analysis will be needed to confirm the exact types of the projectiles, Pyongyang may have fired projectiles it had already tested, such as the “super-large multiple rocket launch system,” or the North Korean version of the US Army’s Army Tactical Missile System, which is larger.

“The projectiles fired today may be the super-large multiple rocket launch system, and North Korea’s own version of so-called ‘US ATACMS,’ as North Korea has not previously launched them to fly across the peninsula, and that the flight range of the two weapons systems is around 400 kilometers,” according to Kim Dong-yub, a professor at Kyungnam University’s North Korean Studies School.

North Korea has been seen launching the same weapons system toward the East Sea a number of times to test stability, first from the eastern region close to the East Sea and then from a location in the west for the projectiles to fly across the country.

On Aug. 24, Pyongyang fired two projectiles into the East Sea from the eastern town of Sondok, South Hamgyong Province. The projectiles flew around 380 kilometers at a maximum altitude of 97 km, and at the top speed of around Mach 6.5, according to Seoul’s JCS.

On Aug. 10 and Aug. 16, North Korea also fired projectiles that Seoul’s military said were short-range ballistic missiles similar to the US ATACMS. They were launched from eastern areas and flew between 230 km and 400 km.

In previous launches, North Korea fired new kinds of short-range weapons, including a modified version of Russia’s Iskander ballistic missiles and “a new large-caliber multiple launch guided rocket system” believed to measure 400 millimeters, tested Aug. 2, which is different from the “super-large” multiple launcher tested Aug. 24.

By Jo He-rim (