The calm before the storm - this is how the political and military situation in the Asia-Pacific region can be described. The marathon organized by Western media for preparing psychological ground for the armed conflict between the “free world” and the “communist totalitarian regime” of Pyongyang has reached its apogee.
The United States concentrates armed forces in Southeast Asia to strike at military and industrial sites in North Korea. Three carrier-based strike groups (AUGs) are concentrated in the Sea of Japan, with USS CVN-68 Nimitz, USS CVN-71 Roosevelt and USS CVN-76 Reagan. Three wings are the sum of the 72 – 108 F / A-18E or F Super Hornet fighter-bombers, plus the older F / A-36C Hornet 18 fighters for action in the interests of the marines. The AUG consists of escort ships - up to 18 destroyers "Orly Burk", and this is 540 KR "Tomahawk" for strikes against ground targets. In the Sea of Japan, SSGN 727 Michigan SSGN and 728 Florida SSGN patrols, and even more Tomahawks 300 patrols are under way. At the Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, there are six B-1B and B-52 bombers and three more B-2 bombers with nuclear status on the runway. All this shock power is collected in a fist is not accidental.
The real threat of nuclear weapons by the Americans weapons existed during the Korean War 1950 – 1953. At the Army Headquarters, the United States developed several versions of a plan for bombing key military targets and industrial facilities in North Korea to gain tactical and strategic advantages. But at the very top, no one decided to open Pandora’s box. This threat persisted throughout the post-war period, albeit to a lesser extent. And, perhaps, it served as a fundamental motive for Kim Il Sung to start his own nuclear program.
At first, 60's work was done with Soviet help, and later with the active participation of Chinese specialists. Pakistan played a significant role in promoting the program. In the second half of 90, Abdul Kadir Khan, the father of Islamabad’s nuclear bomb, handed over to the North Korean side a piece of uranium enrichment equipment, about five thousand centrifuges, as well as documentation on their use. Khan caught the attention of the world after the theft of centrifuge projects during his work in the Netherlands in the 70-s. According to US intelligence officials, he provided key data stored on CDs in exchange for rocket technology. In 2005, President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz acknowledged that Khan handed over centrifuges and their samples to the DPRK. In May, a 2008 th scientist, who had previously spoken about providing data on his own initiative, took his words back, explaining that the Pakistani government had forced him to become a scapegoat. He also argued that the North Korean nuclear program was well developed prior to his visits to the DPRK.
In the first half of 80-s in the town of Yongbin, a hundred kilometers north of Pyongyang, the best physicists were gathered and united under the roof of the Nuclear Research Center from the whole country. Here, with Chinese help, the 14 was built on August 1985, and an experimental 20 megawatt uranium graphite reactor was commissioned. He worked until 1989, when, under US pressure, he had to silence and unload eight thousand fuel rods from the core. Estimates of the amount of plutonium accumulated during this time vary. The US State Department counted six to eight kilograms; the CIA says nine. According to Russian and Japanese experts, at least 24 kilograms can be obtained from eight thousand rods. Subsequently, the North Koreans managed to load and start the reactor again, it worked from the middle of 1990 to 1994 the year when US pressure again stopped. 12 March 1993-th Pyongyang announced that it plans to withdraw from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and refused to allow IAEA inspectors to enter its facilities. From 1990 to 1994, two more Magnox reactors (50 MW and 200 MW) were built at Yongbyon and Teechon. The first is capable of producing 60 kilograms of plutonium per year, which is sufficient for approximately 10 nuclear charges. The 200-megawatt reactor releases 220 kilograms of plutonium per year, enough for 40 warheads. Faced with diplomatic pressure following UN Security Council Resolution 825 and the threat of US air strikes, North Korea agreed to eliminate its plutonium program. At the end of the 2002 of the year, after the “Framework Agreement” was suspended, Pyongyang reloaded reactors.
October 9 2006-st country demonstrated its nuclear capabilities by the first underground test. The estimated power of the exploded plutonium device was 0,2 – 1 kilotons.
25 May 2009, North Korea conducted a second underground nuclear test. The US Geological Survey reported that the explosion was more powerful than the previous one, from two to seven kilotons.
12 February The 2013 North Korean central news agency said the country had experienced a miniature nuclear charge with more explosive force. According to the Institute of Geological Sciences and Mineral Resources of South Korea, the estimated capacity was 7,7 – 7,8 kilotons.
9 September 2016 of the year in 9.30 in the morning local time in the territory of the DPRK recorded seismic vibrations of magnitude 5,3. The epicenter was located near the village in 20 kilometers from the Pungeri polygon. The US Geological Survey classified earthquake as a nuclear explosion. Later, the DPRK officially announced the fifth test. Power ratings range from 10 to 30 kilotons.
January 8 2017 of the year in DPRK tested the first thermonuclear charger. Chinese seismologists recorded a strong earthquake. Information about the presence of the DPRK hydrogen bomb confirmed last September. Seismic stations in different countries estimated the magnitude of aftershocks in 6,1 – 6,4, while scientists determined that the center was located near the surface of the earth. North Korean authorities have announced the successful testing of a thermonuclear warhead. The power of the explosion, according to various estimates, ranged from 100 to 250 kilotons.
8 August 2017, the Washington Post reported on the US Department of Defense Intelligence Agency report. From the document it becomes clear: North Korea has made up to 60 miniature thermonuclear warheads, which can be installed on cruise and ballistic missiles. Photos published in Western media demonstrate Pyongyang’s thermonuclear warhead weighing kilograms 500 – 650.
Despite all the efforts that have been made to create missile defense systems in recent 60 years, the media have expressed doubts of many leading experts and scientists that today or in the near future, an effective defense against a massive attack of medium and intercontinental range missiles is possible. A strategic nuclear weapon equipped with a nuclear warhead, a kind of trump ace in a gun deck, which any state craves for in political games in the international arena.
But to combine a nuclear charger (YaZU) and a ballistic missile is a very difficult technical task. All five official members of the “nuclear club” have traveled a long and difficult path from the first test of the NED to the appearance of an acceptable design compatible with the BR. It took seven years from the first American nuclear test to the appearance of the X-NUMX kilogram W-5, intended for installation on Matador MGM-1200 and Regulus-1 cruise missiles, and almost nine years before the creation of the Honest John M-1 BR tactical BR and corporal. During this time, more than 7 nuclear tests have been carried out. Some of them were aimed at improving the weight and size characteristics. It was possible to reduce the weight of the plutonium implosion device from 3 30 pounds in a W-10 charge to 300 pounds in W-3, and the outer diameter from 1645 inches (7 mm) to 60 (1524 mm), so that the charges could fit into the mid-section of the rocket. The second equally important task is to adapt the design of the ISE for high longitudinal and transverse accelerations, as well as temperature overloads characteristic of ballistic flight. The first Soviet MRSD, equipped with an ISE, P-30М (SS-762), underwent full flight tests with the detonation of a nuclear charge in February 5. The payload of the RDS-3 was 1956 kilograms. By this time, 4 nuclear tests were carried out in the Soviet Union. In China, the fourth nuclear test was conducted in flight testing of DF-1300 MRSD.
Starting with the Mk-1 Little Boy and the Mk-3 Fat Man, all devices are structurally divided into two types. The first - the so-called gun type, the prototype of the entire family is the Mk-1. The principle of the formation of the supercritical mass of fissile (fissile) material is based on the mechanical connection of two or more parts of the subcritical mass using conventional explosives or by other means. For this type, only U235 is suitable as nuclear material. The second ones are of the implosive type, prototype of the Mk-3. The supercritical mass is achieved by compressing the nucleus from fissile material using the same conventional explosive. Pu239, U233, U235 can be used as nuclear material. The first type is simpler to perform and is available to countries with a low scientific, technical and technological level. The second requires less fissile material, but is more complex in execution and involves the possession of higher technologies. Implosion-type devices are made in the form of concentric hollow spheres. The first inner sphere is a fissile material with an outer radius of seven centimeters for U235 and five centimeters for Pu239, an inner radius of 5,77 and 4,25 centimeters, respectively. The second inner sphere, two centimeters thick, is made of beryllium (a neutron reflector) covering nuclear material. Next - three centimeters thick - made of natural U238. The fourth layer from 1 to 10 centimeters thick is a common explosive with a plasticizer. The casing of the device is made of aluminum alloys and adds a couple of centimeters to the total volume. This is the so-called Fitter model. Since the time of Fat Man, the design of implosive devices has changed little, except that then a less sophisticated explosive was used - amatol, the total weight of which was 2300 kilograms. In modern YAZU, a PBX-9501 (W-88) explosive is used, which is six to eight kilograms enough. In the 1959 year, the US Atomic Energy Commission developed a universal mathematical model of a nuclear and thermonuclear implosion device as a primary module. For modern American and Russian-made charges, it is somewhat outdated, but it is quite suitable for assessing North Korean. The model allows knowing the size of the device, especially its key parameter - diameter, to determine the power. With 12 inches (305 mm), the power will be 10 kilotons, with 16 (406 mm) 25, with 18 (456 mm) 100 kilotons and 24 inches (609,6 mm) give one megaton. The length of the device corresponds to its diameter in proportion 5: 1, that is, if the IZU is 12-inch, its length will be 60 inches, and the weight - 500 pounds (227 kg).
Presents all the "Hwaseons"
Hwasong-5 is an exact copy of the Soviet complex Elbrus P-17 (Scud-C). The first such missiles of the DPRK received from Egypt in 1979 – 1980 in exchange for assistance during the Yom Kippur war. Since relations with the Soviet Union at that time were rather tense, and Chinese assistance was unreliable, the North Koreans began to reverse-design (copy) the “Egyptian” P-17. The process was accompanied by the construction of industrial infrastructure, the main elements of which were the plant number 125 in Pyongyang, the research institute in Sanum-don and the launch complex Musudan-ri.
The first prototypes are made in 1984. The missiles named Hwasong-5 (known in the West as Scud Mod. A) were identical to P-17E, derived from Egypt. Test flights took place in April of 1984, but the first version was released in limited edition without operational deployment, since the objectives were only to provide test launches, to confirm the quality of the production process. The serial production of Hwasong-5 (Scud Mod. B) began in small batches in 1985. This type included several minor improvements over the original Soviet project. A thousand kilogram warhead range has been increased from 280 to 320 kilometers, and the Isaev engine is slightly upgraded. Several types of payloads are known: high-explosive, cluster, chemical and, possibly, biological warheads. Throughout the entire production cycle, while the increased range Hwasong-1989 did not appear in 6, the DPRK manufacturers are believed to have carried out some refinements, in particular guidance systems, but the exact data are unknown.
In 1985, Iran acquired 90 – 100 Hwasong-5 worth 500 million dollars. Under the terms of the deal, North Korea agreed to the transfer of missile technology, which helped Tehran create a production line. In Iran, the product received the name "Shahab-1". In 1989, Hwasong-5 purchased the United Arab Emirates.
Hwasong-6 is an improved predecessor. In comparison, it has an increased launch range and improved accuracy. Mass production began in 1990. By the year 2000 produced about a thousand units, of which about 400 sold abroad at prices ranging from 1,5 to two million dollars. 60 missiles delivered to Iran, where they received the name "Shahab-2". They were also exported to Syria, Egypt, Libya, Yemen.
Hwasong-7 (No Dong) - BRSD, entered service with the rocket brigades of the DPRK armed forces in 1998. According to Western experts, it has a launch range from 1350 to 1600 kilometers and is capable of delivering a 760 – 1000 kilogram warhead to the target. No Dong was created by North Korean engineers, according to Western experts, with the financial support of Iran and technical assistance from Russia. Allegedly, during the period of chaos and collapse of the 90-s economy, military-industrial complex enterprises left without government orders sold cutting-edge military technology to all interested organizations. It is claimed, in particular, that the Makeev Design Bureau transferred to the North Korean side technical documentation for the LNX 4D10 (SLBM P-27) and 4D75 (SLBM R-29, first stage). Engine 4Д10, according to US intelligence, served as a prototype for No Dong. The assumption is very controversial. The fact that the technical parameters of the BR No dong and P-27 engines are close is not surprising, one can take as an example another dozen types of LRE developed in the USA, Europe and Japan, with exactly the same characteristics. According to US military intelligence, a single-stage rocket is equipped with a LRE on high-boiling components. Fuel - TM 185 (mixture 20% gasoline + 80% kerosene), oxidizer - AK - 271 (mixture 27% N2O4 + 73% HNO3). 26 600 kilograms (in a vacuum). But in the 4D10 engines created by 50 years ago, more advanced fuel was used: fuel - UDMH, oxidizer - 100% N2O4. The operating time of the No Dong engine on the active leg of the flight is 115, 23 seconds. The maximum speed of the rocket at the end of the active area at the moment of shutdown of the LRE is 3750 meters per second. Starting weight - 15 850 kilograms, detachable head in flight - 557,73 kilogram. There are export options for Pakistan and Iran. The flight time of the rocket is set by the flight range, which in turn depends on the weight of the warhead. The flight to 1100 kilometers (weight of the warhead - 760 kg) lasted 9 minutes 58 seconds. On 1500 kilometers (CU - 557,73 kg) - 12 minutes. The measurements were made by US intelligence satellites during test launches in the DPRK, Pakistan and Iran.
Hwasong-10 (BM-25 Musudan) is a medium-range mobile missile system. First shown to the international community at the 10 military parade in October 2010 of the year, dedicated to the 65 anniversary of the Korean Labor Party. However, Western experts believe that they were mockups. The Hwasong-10 resembles the P-27 Zyb Soviet SLBM in shape, but the Korean rocket is two meters longer. Calculations show that as a result of lengthening of tanks, the flight range can reach approximately 3200 – 4000 kilometers against 2500 kilometers from the Soviet prototype. Since April, 2016-th Hwasong-10 has passed a series of test launches, two of them, obviously, successful.
In service - about 50 launchers. With an estimated range of 3200 kilometers, Musudan can hit any target in East Asia (including the US military bases in Guam and Okinawa). North Korea sold a version of this rocket to Iran under the designation BM-25. The index reflects the range (2500 km). The Iranian designation is "Khorramshahr". The rocket carries 1800 kilograms of payload over a distance of two thousand kilometers (Iran claims that it deliberately reduced the size compared to the original version, thereby not exceeding the range limit for the KR and BR, established by internal law, unilaterally restricting percussion means). This range of action covers targets not only in Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but also in NATO member countries: Romania, Bulgaria and Greece. According to Tehran, the missile can carry several warheads, most likely scatter-type MRLs.
Hwasong-12, judging by the photographs of the 14 pilot launch of May 2017, is a one-stage rocket project with a launch weight of 28 tons, equipped with an engine on high-boiling fuel components using a single main engine with four steering micro-jeep engines. According to initial estimates, Hwasong-12 will have a maximum launch range from 3700 to 6000 kilometers. At a military parade in April of the 2017 th Hwasong-12 was placed on a mobile unit - an eight-axle Chinese-made Wanshan Special Vehicle WS51200. Most likely the rocket is designed to replace the RC Hwasong-10, which proved to be extremely unreliable during the test program.
Hwasong-13 (KN-08 No Dong-C) - ICBM. Some time was considered an intermediate range missile. Engine tests at DPRK landfills are marked by Western observers at the end of 2011. The KN-08 complexes for the first time are publicly shown at the 15 April 2012 parade in Pyongyang. Missiles were equipped with models of the head parts. There is an opinion that the rockets themselves were also mock-ups, since there are doubts about the possibility of moving liquid-carrier rockets without a container on conveyors of that size due to the probability of mechanical deformation of the hull structure. At the October 10 parade of 2015, devoted to the 70 anniversary of the DPRK, the same transporters show another version of the KN-08, which nevertheless has common features with the previous one. There is an assumption that fake layouts (with distortions of the structure for the purpose of misinformation) were shown in 2012, and real ones in 2015. Self-propelled launcher is made on the eight-axis WS51200 chassis (China). The launch of the rocket is carried out from the launching table, turning on it performs an aiming in azimuth. Probably, the development of the chassis family was carried out in the PRC with technical assistance from MWTP (Belarus).
Hwasong-14 - the latest development. This is a full-fledged ICBM, currently in the final stages of development and preparation for test launches. NATO received its own name KN-20. It was first demonstrated at a military parade in the 2011 year. But only 4 July 2017-th conducted the first test run. The rocket launched from the Banhen missile test range in the northern part of the DPRK, climbed 2802 kilometers and flew about 933 kilometers to the east, the detachable warhead fell in the Sea of Japan. According to the generally accepted classification, this is the MBR, since the apogee (the highest point of the trajectory) exceeds one thousand kilometers, and the flight range is 5500 kilometers. Analysts estimate that Hwasong-14 is able to fly up to 6800 kilometers in its original configuration (two stages) with a less steep trajectory. This rocket reaches targets in both Alaska and the continental United States. 28 July 2017-th produced the second test run Hwasong-14. The rocket climbed a kilometer 3724,9, flew 998 kilometers. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, it reached the altitude 681 kilometer and flew 732 kilometer. Flight duration was 47 minutes. The hypothetically optimal flat trajectory of the rocket with such dynamic capabilities would allow to reach a distance of 10 700 kilometers, that is, hit any target on the west coast of the United States. In addition, given the rotation of the Earth, it can be assumed that Chicago and, probably, New York will be within reach of the rocket. The New York Times suggested that the prototype of the Hwaseon-14 engines were Ukrainian-made RD-250. Yuzhmash allegedly handed them to the DPRK from its warehouse stocks. American expert Michael Elleman speaks about the purchase of design documentation, along with the acquisition of some of the engines. According to South Korean intelligence, in 2016, Pyongyang received from 20 to 40 RD-251 from Ukraine. Kiev denies its involvement in the supply of engines in the DPRK. Joshua Pollak, editor-in-chief of The Nonproliferation Review, notes a high probability of data leakage for RD-250 from Ukraine, however, the first-stage engine Hvason-14 was probably developed in cooperation with Iran. Even if the DPRK has access to technical documentation or to 4Д10, 4Д75 or РД-250 in metal, it is unlikely to use them in Pyongyang’s own missile program. The fact is that the chemical industry of North Korea in its infancy, one of the components of the fuel, heptyl (asymmetric dimethylhydrazine UDMH) is not able to produce independently and would have to be bought from Russia or China, which is impossible under the embargo. The North Koreans used the well-known and widespread technique - scaling, roughly speaking, the Isaev 9D21 engine, enlarged 1,5; 2; 3 and 4 times, used in all types of missiles.
Pukkuksong-2 (KN-15) - cold-launched ballistic missile defense, is a ground-based version of the KN-11 SLBM. KN-15 completed its first flight test on February 12, 2017, despite the fact that North Korea has been testing the marine variant - KN-11 SLBMs since May 2015. Today, little is known about the tactical capabilities of the KN-15. In a flight test in February 2017, a rocket flew 500 kilometers and reached a maximum altitude of 550 kilometers, which is almost identical to the trajectory of a successful flight test of KN-11 in August 2016. This deformed, non-optimal trajectory led analysts to speculate that the KN-15 might have a maximum range of 1200 to 2000 kilometers when firing on a flatter trajectory. The rocket uses a solid fuel engine, this will allow the rocket to launch immediately after receiving an order to use weapons. Such products also require far fewer auxiliary vehicles and maintenance personnel, which increases their operational flexibility. At present, the only solid-fuel missile in the arsenal of the DPRK BR is the operational-tactical KN-02. One of the technical innovations was the mortar launch from the transport and launch container (TPK). This scheme is clearly chosen under the influence of Russian technology. TPK is made of thick sheet steel, and this allows the container to be used for restarting. The KN-15 test was also noteworthy in that it was carried out with a tracked transport launcher, reminiscent of the older Soviet 2P19 based on the ISU-152 self-propelled guns. This distinguishes the KN-15 from other North Korean mobile missiles that use wheeled launchers and are mostly limited to working on paved asphalt or relatively smooth dirt roads. The addition of tracked launchers significantly increases the survivability of the rocket, since it can be launched from hidden off-road facilities. This ability is especially valuable for North Korea, which has only about 700 kilometers of paved roads across the country. It is assumed that the PU used in the test was produced in North Korea on the basis of tank T-55. This indicates that the DPRK is able to independently master the production of mobile launchers, since it can no longer buy Chinese or Russian because of the arms embargo. It was also argued that the KN-15 is very similar to the JL-1 and DF-21 missiles and can be manufactured using technology transferred by the Chinese side. The time frame for the rapid development of the KN-15 program and the geometric similarity with Chinese missiles are noted. However, the physical characteristics may not be a reliable indicator of the source of the rocket’s origin, given the physical similarities of SLBMs in general and solid-fuel rockets. In addition, on the KN-15, the monolithic solid-fuel engine and rocket are likely to use trellised rudders to stabilize flight, unlike the JL-1.
21 May 2017, North Korea conducted the second successful KN-15 test. The rocket was launched from the Bukchang rocket range, flying 500 kilometers to the east, rising to an altitude of 560 kilometers before falling into the sea. It became more apparent similarity with the American SLBM "Polaris" A-1, down to the details. The overall dimensions coincide almost to the centimeter: the diameter of the missiles is 1,4 m and 1,37 meters, the length is 9,525 m and 8,7 meters, respectively. Probably, the starting weight of the KN-11 / 15 is close to the weight of the Polaris А-1 - 13 100 kilograms. But the North Korean rocket is a more sophisticated and modern product. The KN-11 / 15 marching steps are made of composites by winding cocoon type (in Polaris A-1, the steps were made of AMZ-256 heat-resistant stainless vanadium steel).
North Korea is a tough nut, take care of your teeth, gentlemen imperialists.