North Korea May Be Testing ‘Carrier Killer’ Missiles

REUTERS/Sue-Lin Wong

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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North Korea appears to be testing a new anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) as the U.S. Navy prepares to put pressure on the regime.

The North Korean ballistic missile tested Sunday was likely a KN-17, a new type of Scud, U.S. defense officials told Fox News Monday. The missile tested before President Donald Trump’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping may have also been one of the new weapons. Both missiles failed, exploding shortly after launch at Sinpo.

The missiles being tested are believed to be single-stage, liquid-fueled, anti-ship missiles, and the missiles appear to have been present in North Korea’s military parade Saturday.

The missile has fins around the nose cone, indicating that the North Koreans are experimenting with terminal phase maneuverability observes Ankit Panda, an editor for The Diplomat. He assesses that the weapon might function to a certain extent like a Korean version of China’s DF-21D ASBM, commonly referred to as a “carrier killer.”

The U.S. Navy carrier strike group is making its way towards waters off Korea. The USS Carl Vinson will be returning to the area after participating in joint military drills last month. While North Korea’s ASBM ambitions predate the U.S. Navy’s strategic plans, the timing of the tests is noteworthy. Numerous reports indicated the Vinson was already around the peninsula at the time of the test. However, new reports claim the aircraft carrier is near Indonesia. There is a slight possibility that North Korea may have been responding to early reports.

North Korea’s ASBM program is still in its infancy as the fact that the missiles continue to explode during tests proves. The North has several short-range anti-ship cruise missiles in its arsenal, which were also paraded Saturday. The weapons are carried on Transporter Erector Launchers (TELs) and are believed to be based on the Russian Kh-35.

In a conflict, the North would still be reliant on its cruise missiles and other weapons systems.

North Korea has tested two new ballistic missiles this year — the KN-15 (Pukguksong-2), a three-stage, solid-fueled mid-range missile tested February, and the KN-17.

The Trump administration is determined to bring an end to North Korean weapons testing, but Pyongyang refuses to back down. “We’ll be conducting more missile tests on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis,” North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Han Song-Ryol told BBC Monday.

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