Cruise missile "Pulkhvasar-3-31". "Fire Arrow" from North Korea

Cruise missile "Pulkhvasar-3-31". "Fire Arrow" from North Korea
First launch of the Pulkhvasar-3-31 rocket, January 24, 2024

The defense industry of the DPRK is seriously engaged in the development of long-range cruise missiles capable of solving strategic problems. In the recent past, several such products were tested, and a new development was recently shown. The promising Pulkhvasar-3-31 missile has been brought to flight testing, and several launches have already been carried out from different launch vehicles.

Series of tests

North Korea is developing new weapons in strict secrecy. Their existence usually becomes known only from official communications or during public events. This happened with the promising missile “Pulkhvasar-3-31” (“Fire Arrow-3-31”). At the stage of design and preparation for testing, nothing was announced about this product. For the first time he was mentioned only in the official news about the start of flight tests.

On January 25, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that the day before, the first test launch of the promising Pulhwasar-3-31 missile took place at one of the test sites. The product is at the development stage, and the project itself is part of the continuous process of updating the weapons systems of the Korean People's Army. It is noted that the tests are in no way related to the current situation in the Far Eastern region and do not affect the security of surrounding countries.

KCNA published a photograph of the experimental Pulkhvasar-3-31 rocket in the first seconds of flight. However, any technical details of the test were not disclosed. In particular, the launch method, the technical characteristics shown, etc. remained unknown.

One of the launches from a submarine, January 28

On January 29, new reports were received about testing of new missiles. Two launches of experimental products took place the day before at one of the sea ranges near the eastern coast of the DPRK. The tests were personally observed by Supreme Commander Kim Jong-un, accompanied by the country's top military and political leadership.

The missile carrier in the January 28 test was an unnamed submarine from the KPA Navy. She sequentially carried out two launches of “Fire Arrows” towards the Korean East Sea (North Korean name for the Sea of ​​Japan). The missiles were aimed at a target located on one of the islands in the sea and successfully hit it. The flight of the products to the target took 7421 and 7445 seconds. – more than 2 hours. The starting points and target position, as well as the long flight trajectory, are not disclosed.

KCNA reiterated that the missile launches are related to the development of weapons of the Korean Navy and do not threaten the interests of other countries. At the same time, the Agency quoted Kim Jong-un, who indicated that the current military-political situation and future threats require protecting the country’s maritime borders. The new Pulkhwasar-3-31 cruise missile and its carrier are seen as answers to existing and emerging threats.

Technical issues

As always happens, Korean official structures are in no hurry to disclose all the details of a promising project, incl. of greatest interest. So far they have limited themselves to publishing a few photographs from two tests, mentioning the launch method and the duration of the test flights. However, the published materials also allow us to examine the new product and draw preliminary conclusions.

Judging by the available information, the Pulkhvasar-3-31 product is a long-range cruise missile designed to destroy stationary ground targets. Judging by the combination of its appearance and characteristics, it can be considered a kind of analogue of the Russian Caliber missile or the American Tomahawk. At the same time, it will not yet be possible to fully assess the degree of similarity with existing weapons.

Published photographs, despite poor quality or angles, show that the Fire Arrow-3-31 is similar to other missiles in its class. The product is built in a cylindrical body of large aspect ratio with a hemispherical head fairing. Apparently, the rocket has a folding wing that fits inside the body before launch; rudders of a similar design and external casings of unknown purpose are also provided.

The published photos only show the rockets taking off. It is carried out by a solid fuel starting engine, which produces a characteristic column of smoke. In this case, a turbojet engine should be used as a propulsion engine, having an optimal ratio of thrust and fuel consumption. Propulsion systems of other types will not allow a flight lasting several hours.

Probably, Pulkhvasar-3-31, like its foreign counterparts, flies at high subsonic speeds. This flight mode reduces the travel time to the target, and also allows you to keep the design simple, without meeting the loads of supersonic speeds. During the tests on January 28, two missiles were in the air for 123-124 minutes. This indicates the possibility of achieving a flight range of 1500-2000 km. In this case, the launch could not be carried out to the full design range.

Cruise missiles of this class are intended to destroy ground targets with previously known coordinates. To solve this problem, control and guidance systems of various types are used. The Fire Arrow may have an autopilot, inertial and/or satellite navigation system on board. It is also impossible to exclude the use of a radar navigation system based on a reference map of the area, as well as the introduction of a seeker capable of finding a specific target during the final leg of the flight.

The first test launch of the Pulkhwasar-3-31 missile was presumably carried out using a land launcher. Apparently, the latter was purely a prototype, and its introduction into the ground forces is not expected. The next two launches were carried out from an unnamed submarine. At the same time, the launch method - through a torpedo tube or using a separate launcher - remains unknown.

Weapons of the future

Recently, the DPRK defense industry has been paying great attention to the development of cruise missiles. Three types have been consistently created and brought to testing weapons of this class with varying characteristics, intended for different types of armed forces. Two of them may have been adopted or are being prepared for this, and the third has reached testing, and its appearance in arsenals is only a matter of time.

Let us recall that in February 2023, the KPA missile forces tested two promising cruise missiles at once. These were the Khvasar-1 and Khvasar-2 products from the ground-based missile systems of the same name. Two pairs of missiles of each type flew along a specific trajectory and hit designated targets. Foreign experts estimated the range of Strela-1 and Strela-2 at 1500 and 1800 km, respectively. In August, the Khwasar-2 missile or its modified version was launched from an Amnok-class corvette. These tests also showed high combat performance.

Supreme Commander of the DPRK Kim Jong-un observes the testing of a new missile

Now the DPRK has at its disposal a similar ammunition with similar characteristics, intended for fleet. When the Pulkhwasar-3-31 missile is brought into service, it will greatly change the capabilities of the KPA Navy. Its submarine forces will be able to attack remote enemy ground targets not only with ballistic missiles, but also with cruise missiles. The strike potential of submarine forces will become more flexible and ready to solve a wider range of tasks.

Attention should be paid to the expected tactical and technical characteristics of new missile weapons. The Khvasar-1/2 and Pulkhvasar-3-31 products are capable of hitting targets at ranges of at least 1,5 thousand km, which is quite enough to solve combat missions within the Far Eastern region. Depending on the starting point, North Korean “Arrows” are capable of controlling the entire territory of South Korea and Japan. In addition, if they can enter the appropriate waters, submarines with Fire Arrows will be able to threaten US facilities in the Pacific Ocean.

In all directions

Thus, the DPRK continues to develop its armed forces and develop new weapons of all major classes. As is now known, in recent years much attention has been paid to the deployment of long-range cruise missiles for land and sea-based systems. To date, the first successes in this area have been shown in the form of several missiles of different types.

So far we are only talking about testing new missile weapons, but we can expect that this stage will not take much time. Over the next few years, the KPA will receive new types of combat-ready cruise missiles. In parallel, the DPRK will have to build carrier submarines for promising missiles or modernize existing hulls. All these activities will not be quick and simple, but the results will be fully justified.
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  1. +9
    31 January 2024 06: 52
    Glory, honor and deepest respect to the Korean communist designers!
  2. +6
    31 January 2024 14: 31
    You can only give a standing ovation! Set tasks and complete them! In this regard, to put it mildly, we are not on top of our game and there is no need to complain about the imposed sanctions, the DPRK has been under them all its life!
  3. +2
    31 January 2024 15: 37
    That's who has excellent Faberge. I set the task and completed it. And most importantly, the determination to apply is not complicated by the number of houses, deposits and mistresses from relatives in the dense jungle of sodomites.
  4. 0
    4 March 2024 15: 00
    Active development of medium- and long-range missiles.
    You can be happy for your ally.