First launch of a new rocket, July 31, 2019
The other day, the DPRK announced new tests of its promising development - a super-large-caliber missile system. This system has been tested at training grounds since last summer, and its transfer to troops is expected soon. It is expected that the appearance of the system in caliber approx. 600 mm will sharply increase the strike capabilities of missile forces and artillery.
The existence of new models of North Korean weapons often becomes known only at the test stage or later thanks to official media. A promising missile system was no exception. Its existence was first reported on August 1, 2019, immediately after the first test firing.
According to the CCAC, the first tests of the complex (its designation remains unknown) took place on July 31; they were personally led by Kim Jong-un. Television showed shots of launch and missiles at an early stage of flight, as well as the moment the training target was hit. Curiously, the launcher was hidden by pixelation - unlike a rocket. The media specified that the launch was a success, and the rocket confirmed the calculated characteristics.
First Launcher Launcher
The South Korean military tracked the launch. According to them, the rocket flew about 250 km. The Korean People’s Army does not comment on these reports.
On August 2, events repeated. The second launch, also carried out under the leadership of the Commander-in-Chief of the DPRK Armed Forces, was again successful and confirmed all the characteristics. New photos of the launcher, also censored, were published. However, this time, pixelation affected only the package of transport-launch containers. They did not hide the tracked chassis.
The following test reports of the new complex appeared only a few months later. The third firing took place on March 3, 2020 during the exercises of the missile forces and artillery of the ground forces. The official media again published photos and videos of great interest. The exercises involved a new version of the self-propelled launcher on a wheeled chassis.
On testing in August 2019.
Just the other day, on March 29, the DPRK National Defense Academy completed the next test launch of the "super-large multiple launch rocket system." The purpose of the event was "re-confirmation of the performance characteristics." The combat vehicle on the caterpillar chassis launched a rocket that successfully hit the target. This time the launch was shown without any retouching. Launcher can be considered in detail. An emergency transfer of new equipment to the troops is reported.
South Korea again tracked launches and released key data. There was a launch of two missiles, it was carried out from the east coast of the DPRK towards the sea. Products flew approx. 230 km
Extra large caliber
As always, North Korea is in no hurry to reveal all the features of the new project, but estimates and conclusions can already be made based on available data. In general, we are talking about creating a promising long-range MLRS equipped with a super-large-caliber missile. The development of such ammunition is a rather difficult task, but its appearance gives special combat capabilities.
The characteristics of the new missile are not called. In official photos you can see the product with a cylindrical body of large elongation and an animated head part. There are no signs of rocket separation into stages, but the warhead can be detachable. In the head part there is an X-shaped plumage, probably rudders. The tail is equipped with in-flight stabilizers.
According to various estimates, the rocket caliber reaches 600 mm. Length - up to 8-9 m. Mass is unknown. Perhaps it reaches several tons. The product is equipped with a solid fuel engine. According to the South Korean military, during the tests, the flight range was 230-250 km. It is likely that the DPRK was testing its new weapon at maximum range.
North Korea showed the results of firing at targets. The above suggests that the missile is equipped with some means of maintaining the course or guidance, providing acceptable accuracy of the hit. Management on the trajectory can be carried out by the head set of planes.
Apparently, the new type of missile is delivered in a cylindrical TPK for mounting on a launcher. At the moment, three types of installations of different designs with different combat capabilities were involved in the tests.
First in the news a kind of tracked vehicle with a lifting frame for the TPK appeared. It was shown in "pixel" form, which is why the main features cannot be considered. However, it was clearly not a launcher from the later news.
Already in early August, they showed another tracked combat vehicle with a different layout. The ten-rim chassis is equipped with a pronounced cabin, and a large cargo area allows you to lay a frame with TPK on it. Such a machine transports and launches 6 missiles of a new type. The package of containers is lifted hydraulically at an angle corresponding to the firing range.
The third type of launcher is built on a wheeled chassis - the South Korean version of the four-axle Tatra truck. The machine has a protected cabin and other necessary devices. At the same time, the ammunition load has been reduced to 4 missiles. Unlike a caterpillar chassis, a wheeled vehicle needs jacks to level it before firing.
Benefits and potential
The new North Korean MLRS with an unknown designation has outstanding characteristics, which is why it is extremely interesting. At the same time, it poses a great danger to South Korea, and Seoul will have to take into account the existence of such systems for a probable adversary.
The new development of the DPRK is declared as a multiple launch rocket system. However, the flight range and power of the warhead of the missile allow us to consider it as an operational-tactical missile system. The presence of six missiles in one installation provides special operational capabilities, and at the same time advantages over other OTRK and MLRS.
Apparently, the classification as a MLRS associated with the planned methods of combat use. So, combat vehicles will have to work as part of a battery of several units. They have to carry out a massive shelling of remote targets in salvos of the entire ammunition. Thus, almost dozens of warheads of large mass can simultaneously fall on the enemy’s object.
From official reports it follows that the new MLRS will go into service with missile units from the ground forces, but not into strategic missile forces. Due to this, non-strategic KPA troops will have a special tool for certain tasks.
The ability to work in formations and the long range make the new MLRS extremely dangerous for South Korea. With its help, the KPA will be able to attack targets at a considerable depth of defense, and Seoul and the nearest cities fall into the firing zone. In fact, the army system of volley fire of the operational-tactical level turns into a strategic weapon.
However, the new North Korean weapons should not be overestimated - as well as underestimated South Korean capabilities. The new complex uses a “conventional” ballistic missile of limited range, which may not be the most difficult target for advanced air defense and missile defense. Seoul is trying to develop its army, taking into account current threats, and the appearance in service of a new MLRS will lead to a symmetrical response.
According to official figures, since the summer of last year, the new MLRS has been tested. The last launch at the moment took place just a few days ago. The complex has not yet been delivered to the army and is not in service. However, testing and refinement can be completed in the very near future, and the KPA will receive a new weapon with wide capabilities - a new means of deterring a potential enemy.
In response to this, South Korea will be forced to take certain military measures. What will be the consequences of this, and how far the next round of the arms race will go is a big question. In addition, other countries of the region may pay attention to the new MLRS, which also will not contribute to improving the international situation.