North Korea test fired a newly developed hypersonic missile this week, state news media KCNA reported on Wednesday, joining a race headed by major military powers to deploy the advanced weapons system.
The report said “In the first test launch, national defence scientists confirmed the navigational control and stability of the missile,”.Hypersonic weapons are considered the next generation of arms that aim to rob adversaries of reaction time and traditional defeat mechanisms.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did not inspect the launch of Hwasong-8, according to a report from the hermit kingdom. The official Rodong Sinmun newspaper carried a picture of the weapon with a set of guidance fins at the base of its nose cone ascending into the morning sky.
The official Korean Central News Agency said that the missile met key technical requirements, including launch stability and the maneuverability and flight characteristics of the “detached hypersonic gliding warhead”.
The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Wednesday, The North’s hypersonic missile is at an early stage of development judged by detected velocity and other data, and would take a “considerable period of time” until it could be deployed in combat.
The test could mean the North is entering an accelerating race to deploy the weapon now involving the United States, Russia and China.
KCNA described the new missile as an important addition to the country’s “strategic” weaponry, implying that the system is being developed to deliver nuclear weapons.
The nuclear armed North, which invaded the South in 1950, is under multiple sets of international sanctions over its banned nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programmes, and earlier this month said it had tested a long-range cruise missile.