North Korea 'test fires hypersonic missile which successfully hits target'

Wednesday’s launch was North Korea’s first since October and was spotted by several military personnel in the region, drawing criticism from governments in the United States, South Korea and Japan

Photos released by North Korean state media show that North Korea tested an anti-aircraft missile on October 19, 2021 (

Image: EPN / Newscom / Avalon)

North Korea fired a “supersonic missile” during a test this week that successfully hit a target, state news agency KCNA reported.

Wednesday’s launch was North Korea’s first since October and was spotted by several military personnel in the region, drawing criticism from governments in the United States, South Korea and Japan.

It came as the country sought new military capabilities amid stalled denuclearization talks.

North Korea tested a hypersonic missile for the first time in September, joining a race between the major military powers to use the advanced weapons system.

Unlike ballistic missiles, which fly into space before returning on steep trajectories, hypersonic weapons fly to targets at lower altitudes and can reach more than five times the speed of sound – or about 6,200 km per hour (3,850 mph).

Wednesday’s launch was North Korea’s first since October

“The successive successes in test launches in the hypersonic missile sector are of strategic importance as they expedite a task of modernizing the state’s strategic armed forces,” the KCNA report said.

During the test on Wednesday, the “hypersonic sliding warhead” detached itself from its rocket booster and maneuvered 120 km sideways before “precisely hitting” a target 700 km away, KCNA reported.

The test also confirmed components like the flight controls and their ability to operate in winter, KCNA added.

North Korea first tested a hypersonic missile in September (file photo)
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Image:

KCNA via KNS / AFP via Getty Image)

The missile demonstrated its ability to combine “multi-stage gliding and strong lateral maneuvers,” KCNA said.

More maneuverable missiles and warheads are likely to help defeat missile defense systems like those of South Korea and the United States, analysts said.

“My impression is that the North Koreans have identified hypersonic gliders as a potentially useful qualitative means of addressing missile defense,” said Ankit Panda, senior fellow of the US Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

North Korea’s ruler Kim Jong Un
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Image:

AFP / Getty Images)

Photos of the missile used in Wednesday’s test suggest it is a different version than the one tested last year and it was likely first unveiled at a defense exhibition in Pyongyang in October, he added.

“They probably have at least two separate development programs in place,” said Panda.

“One of them was the Hwasong-8, which was tested in September. This missile, which shares some features with the Hwasong-8, is another.”

The U.S. State Department said the test violated several UN Security Council resolutions and posed a threat to North Korea’s neighbors and the international community.

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