Kim Jong Un presided over the launch of a new anti-ship cruise missile system in Wonson off North Korea’s east coast on Thursday, and though the missiles performed well and struck their target, it was in reality a pretty weak showing.
The missiles fired off from a range of about 120 miles from tracked launchers with forest coloured camouflage. The missiles themselves were not new, according to The Diplomat, but showed off a new launcher which can fire from hidden, off-road locations within moments of setting up.
But that’s about the only nice things you can say about these missiles.
In the photos released by North Korean media, the missiles are clearly striking a ship that isn’t moving.
In a combat situation, the ships would move and take countermeasures. For the US, South Korean, and Japanese navies, that often means firing an interceptor missile.
Additionally, North Korea lacks the ability to support these missiles with accurate guidance. The US would use planes, drones, or even undersea platforms to observe and track a target.
North Korea waited until two US aircraft carrier strike groups armed to the teeth with missile defence capabilities left their shores to test out these new missiles, perhaps to avoid embarrassment should the US knock them down.
Unlike ballistic missile tests, which are banned under international law, the US did not publicly comment on this launch. North Korea is well within its rights to test a cruise missile in international waters.
But despite the rudimentary technology used in the launch, North Korea did show that it poses a real threat. Not only do the missile launchers leverage the element of surprise, but they represent yet another new missile capability.
In just a few short months, North Korea has demonstrated a range of capabilities that have surprised experts and military observers. Though the missiles don’t pose a real threat to the US Navy, Kim just showed he’s serious about fighting on all fronts.
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