Did North Korea Just Launch the KN-11 SLBM?

On Sunday North Korea tested a ballistic missile, and according to US Strategic Command it was a medium to intermediate range missile, there’s a spread there, and this had everyone reaching for their Musudans.

But then reports gave an apogee of 550km, and it was like WTF.

Initial reports stated that the North Korean missile test had a range of 500km, so the initial hunch was that Pyongyang had again test fired a Musudan on a lofted trajectory, as with the only successful launch of the Musudan to date in June 2016.

However, that launch had an apogee of 1,400km.

In August 2016, North Korea tested the KN-11 SLBM to a range of 500km and with a 550km apogee, exactly the same numbers as yesterday.

That suggests that yesteryday’s missile test was a land based launch of the KN-11, not the Musudan. The KN-11, like the Musudan, is based on the R-27 or SS-N-6 Serb Soviet era SLBM. Unlike the Musudan or the Serb the KN-11 is solid fuelled.

An image or video of yesteryday’s test may soon come to hand, which would enable us to determine, for instance, whether the exhaust plume indicates solid or liquid fuel.

In my previous post I had stated, pheeeeeew, that my analysis is subject to change as data comes to hand.

That very much remains the case.

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