The launch of 29 in August of a North Korean rocket (its trajectory passed over Japan over Cape Erimo in Hokkaido), which fell into the Pacific Ocean and, according to official Japanese information, flew near 2 700 km at a maximum height of 550 km, and added no new information on the development of the DPRK missile program . Except that the flight of the Hwaseong type rocket was successful. This may give the impression that the rocket has a chance to go through the flight test stages and be accepted into service. However, the flight test programs of ballistic missiles used in developed countries, in which it is necessary to ensure a significant number of successful launches in the final stages, are not related to North Korean practice. Especially in a crisis situation, when you need to quickly demonstrate with indescribable delight your formidable potential.
During the last launch, attention was drawn to the controversial statement of the Prime Minister of Japan, where it was said that, on the one hand, this was a clear threat to the country, on the other hand, the rocket flight did not pose a threat, therefore no special measures were taken. These measures probably meant the use of the Aegis missile defense system on Japanese destroyers. It seems that one of the reasons for the non-use of missile defense can be a low probability of interception, even if several anti-ballistic missiles were launched. In this case, the failure would have led Kim Jong-un to even greater delight.
The next North Korean underground nuclear test can be regarded as another desperate provocative challenge to Pyongyang, first of all, to Washington in order to force direct contacts.
History development of the DPRK missile program from operational-tactical to intercontinental systems originates from 1980 year after receiving from Egypt the Soviet complex "Scud" with a missile with a range of up to 300 km. The upgrade allowed the missile range to be increased to 500 – 600 km.
You can find data that was made to 1000 such missiles, much of which is sold to Iran, Syria, Libya, in other countries. According to Military Balance, there are several dozen mobile launchers and about 200 Scud missiles of various modifications currently in the country.
The next stage is the Nodon-1 rocket with an engine consisting of a bunch of four Scud rocket engines with a range of up to 1500 km. In Iran, they were under the index "Shehab-3", in Pakistan - "Gauri-1". Next is the Musudan or Khvanson-10 medium-range missile with a range of different sources ranging from 2500 to 4000 km. Its first successful test was conducted in 2016 year.
In May of this year, the Khwanson-12 type rocket was successfully launched, which is attributed to the intercontinental range in the DPRK, but experts, like the author, consider it to be related to medium-range missiles, taking into account the estimated mass and overall characteristics.
It should be noted here that the division into RSD (medium-range missiles) and ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) is enshrined in the START treaties between the USA and the USSR (1000 – 5500 km - RSD, 5500 km and above - ICBM), but in reality the rocket can easily move from one category to another during flight tests. To do this, it is sufficient to reduce or increase the missile weight to be dropped within relatively small limits, and the targeting range will differ markedly from the accepted boundary in one or the other direction.
Finally, in July 2017, the North Koreans announced the launching of two Khwanson-14 ICBMs, the flight trajectories of which are contradictory. According to Russian data, the rocket should be attributed to the RSD, according to the US - to the ICBM, but this will be discussed below.
The scandal over the assumptions about the use of Hwanson-14 liquid rocket engines such as RD-250 deserves a separate assessment, devoid of political bias. This Soviet engine was developed in the 60's. OKB-456 under the direction of V.P. Glushko (now NPO Energomash im. Glushko) for the ICBM P-36 is also used in the orbital rocket. At the plant Yuzhmash (Ukraine) was organized the production of engines RD-250 and their modifications. Yuzhmash produced all heavy type missiles for the Strategic Missile Forces equipped with engines RD-250, RD-251, RD-252.
An article in the New York Times "The success of the North Korean ballistic missile is linked to the Ukrainian plant, experts say," based on the assumption of Mike Elleman of the American International Institute for Strategic Studies, an acquaintance of us, that the Hwanson-14 rocket uses the RD-250 engine. , caught in unknown ways from Ukraine to the DPRK. There are some pictures of the engine next to Kim Jong-un, which cannot be said to be RD-250. This engine is a two-chamber design, and in the image of the rocket one camera is visible.
This whole story, based only on the hypothesis of Elleman, deserves further analysis. So far it is impossible to imagine getting such an engine in the DPRK under the auspices of the authorities, if only because Ukraine fulfills the requirements of the “Regime for controlling the proliferation of rocket technologies”. Channels of any black market are also unlikely to “digest” such a huge aggregate. The reality may be the illegal receipt by North Korean engineers of design, technological and production documentation from Energomash or Yuzhmash specialists, as well as participation in the development of recruited specialists from these organizations.
A significant place in the rocket program is devoted to the development of carriers for launching satellites. Back in 1998, DPRK announced the launch of the Tephodon-1 three-stage launch vehicle with the Gwanmenson-1 satellite, but the satellite was not launched to the orbit due to the failure of the last stage engine. In 2006, the launch of the Tephodon-2 rocket took place, which is considered to be an ICBM or a launch vehicle, although design differences may be minimal. According to reports, it exploded on the 42 second flight. The next launch of such a rocket - in 2009, with the Kwanmenson-2 satellite, was also an emergency one. It was only at the end of 2012 that the Kanmenoons-3 satellite was launched by this rocket into low orbit.
With regard to the creation of North Korean ballistic missiles for submarines (SLBMs), the apparent beginning of this very fast process was reportedly recorded in October 2014 by throwing a KN-11 rocket from a ground stand, in May 2015 of the year - by launching from water layout is likely from a submersible platform. Similar tests in the same year were continued. According to widespread information, in August 2016 of the KN-11 SLBM was launched from a diesel-electric submarine of the Sinp'o type (apparently, experienced, with a single pipe - launcher). It is reported that six more submarines of this type are being built with two or three launchers, and that the KN-11 SLBM is adapted for launches from mobile ground launchers.
It should be borne in mind that the KN-11 rocket contains a lot of controversial and little reliable information. For example, it is claimed that it was developed on the basis of the Soviet SLBM P-27, which cannot be, because the Р-27 is a single-stage liquid-fuel rocket, while the KN-11 is a two-stage solid-fuel rocket (!) . Such awkward messages are full of many reports about North Korean missiles. Most likely, the intelligence agencies of Russia and the United States have more accurate information about the characteristics of missiles, submarines, launchers and other features of the DPRK program, but in this case open information is used. Of course, experts can distinguish the torches of liquid and solid-propellant rocket engines in a video, but there is no certainty that the video is related to the rocket reported.
Regardless of the degree of borrowing of foreign technologies, today one can say about the significant successes of the DPRK rocketry, as a result of which the country is able to obtain in the near future an almost complete range of missiles of various types, from operational tactical to intercontinental. A number of achievements may be amazing. For example, the development of large solid rocket engines. This requires not only modern solid fuel formulations, but also large-scale production of fuel and its pouring into the rocket body. In open sources, including satellite images, there is no information about such plants. This surprise was caused in its time by the appearance in Iran of a two-stage solid-fuel medium-range ballistic missile “Sedgil” and “Sedgil-2”.
Of course, the degree of development, that is, the reliability of many missiles, not only long-range, on-board and ground-based control systems, launchers remains low, as evidenced, for example, by three recent emergency missile launches that have already been put into service. And this poses an additional threat during the launch of North Korean missiles, since it is not known whether local specialists are able to reliably control flights with failures, leading to significant changes in trajectories, whether there are liquidation or self-destruction systems during emergency launches, whether there are systems to prevent unauthorized launches, etc.
Extremely important uncertainty exists regarding the possibility of equipping North Korean missiles with nuclear warheads. On the one hand, there is information that the DPRK already has not either 8, or 10 – 12 warheads for installation on ballistic missiles, on the other, that they cannot be used in missiles, but only in bombs. However, it must be borne in mind that even Scud and Nodon-1 missiles, like the next ones, are capable of carrying a payload of about 1000 kg. The entire relatively early history of the creation of nuclear warheads using weapons-grade uranium or plutonium in nuclear states convincingly confirms the possibility of creating warheads within this mass. In such conditions of uncertainty, it is quite natural to count on the worst option, especially considering the constant aggravation of the military-political situation in the region.
ABOUT TASKS FOR RUSSIA
The proposed article does not discuss the entire set of political and diplomatic measures of influence from Russia and other states on the leadership of the DPRK, since it is better to carry out analysis in this area to professional political scientists. It can only be noted that, according to the author, it would be necessary, without reducing the sanctions pressure in accordance with the unanimously adopted resolutions of the UN Security Council No. 2270 and 2321 and unilateral US sanctions, as well as those adopted after the nuclear test of 3 September, to facilitate the preparation for the beginning of consultations between influential American and North Korean representatives to reduce tensions on the basis of actions acceptable to the parties at the first stages. True, sanctions can be effective only if they are strictly implemented by all states. In this regard, there is a lot of information that China, which accounts for up to 80% of trade with the DPRK, does not exert pressure on Pyongyang for various reasons, including due to dissatisfaction with the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea.
In the field of military-technical policy in the current situation in the foreseeable future of Russia, it would be advisable to focus on two areas: firstly, to provide with the help of national technical means of control (NTSK) maximum information on the state of development, production and test base of missiles DPRK systems and flight test processes. Secondly, on the development of missile defense systems capable of intercepting missiles and warheads during single and group launches.
In the first direction, it can be assumed that the task of monitoring the territory of the DPRK to obtain data on the missile infrastructure is carried out by domestic space systems. However, there is no confidence in the reliable control of launches and flight path parameters of various types of missiles. Currently, the required composition of the space echelon of the missile attack warning system (SPRN) is missing. From the ground-level stations, the SPRN could apparently monitor and measure the parameters of the trajectories of the North Korean radar Voronezh-DM in the Krasnoyarsk region and the Voronezh-DM radar near the town of Zeya. The first, as promised, should take up combat duty until the end of 2017, the second, according to Spetsstroy, should complete construction and installation work in 2017.
Perhaps this can explain the large discrepancies in the values of the trajectory parameters recorded by Russian, North Korean and Japanese means when launching Khwansson-14 missiles. For example, 4 on July 2017 of the year in the DPRK carried out the first launch of this rocket, which, according to North Korean data close to the Japanese, reached an altitude of 2802 km and in 39 minutes flew 933 km. The Russian Defense Ministry presented completely different data: altitude - 535 km, range - 510 km. Similar sharp discrepancies occurred during the second launch of 28 on July 2017. Russian data are accompanied by soothing conclusions about the absence of an intercontinental range from the launched North Korean missiles. Obviously, Voronezh-DM in the Krasnoyarsk Territory and even more so Voronezh-DM could not get the necessary data from Zeya, and there is no information about other Russian trajectory measurement systems used. The Russian Ministry of Defense does not explain the significant differences in the reported results. It cannot be ruled out that Moscow would not like to increase the sanctions pressure on Pyongyang in the hope of diplomatic methods of reaching a compromise when lifting part of the sanctions. But, as historical experience convincingly testifies, any attempts to appease the dictator can lead to disastrous consequences.
The second direction, as noted above, is the development of an effective missile defense system. The vigorous statements by the responsible representatives of the Ministry of Defense and the Defense Industry Complex that the C-400 complex is already capable of intercepting medium-range missiles, and that C-500 will soon be able to intercept even intercontinental missiles, should not mislead anyone. There is no information that C-400 or C-500 systems with antimissiles for intercepting combat blocks of medium-range missiles underwent full-scale tests. Especially since such tests require medium-range missile target missiles, the development of which is prohibited by the INF Treaty. In this regard, claims against the United States, which have tested their missile defense with similar targets, are well-founded and require clarification.
The fact that we could use the Topol-E ICBM as a target, which can imitate the trajectory and speed characteristics of medium-range missiles due to the cut-off of thrusters of cruise engines, also has no information.
For an idea of the possible completion of full-scale development of the C-400 and C-500 complexes with interceptions of combat units of medium-range missiles, one should take into account the experience of the United States, which carried out such tests of 15 – 20 years. For example, the first test tests of GBI strategic antimissiles launched in the 1997 year, from the 1999 year, 17 field tests were conducted to intercept simulators of medium-range missile warheads, of which only 9 were successful. From 2006 to the present, 10 tests have been conducted to intercept strategic ballistic targets, of which only 4 were successful. And it would be naive to expect that we will not need many years to bring our missile defense system to a working state.
However, all work to ensure reliable protection of critical objects in Russia from single and group rocket attacks with any type of combat equipment must be carried out systematically and without undue optimism. This is connected both with the domestic missile defense system and with the completion of the deployment of a single space system (CEN), which provides global control over the launch of most types of missiles, with the deployment of all ground radar SPRN on combat duty.
What threatens the world nuclear potential of North Korea
- Vladimir Dvorkin