North Korea Test Launches KN-17 Missile (?)

It would appear that North Korea has launched another KN-17, and it appears to be another failure.

The KN-17 is a new missile, based on the Scud-ER/Nodong, and was first seen at the recent Kim il-Sung birthday parade, and was flight tested for the first time promptly thereafter.

I’ve gotta fly, but quick analysis based on limited available information thus far, so subject to change.

Reports suggest that the KN-17 failed seconds after launch, others say minutes. One report, based on US military sources, states that the main body of the missile landed 35km from the launch site.

So far as we know the KN-17 is a terminally guided manoeuvrable missile, or at least is meant to so be, and this capability, in my view, is sought after because of THAAD Ballistic Missile Defense. It is cited as a carrier killer, but North Korea doesn’t have the sensors to see over the horizon.

The initial KN-17 test “tumbled” or “pinwheeled,” so far as we know.

I think that this test also tumbled. The missile could well have started to pinwheel seconds after launch and the main body of the missile thereupon likely reached ground some time thereafter, which explains the “seconds” and “minutes” in various reports.

Okay, I really gotta fly.

Update Reports now emphasise that the, most likely, KN-17 missile flew “minutes” and reached an apogee of 71km before it failed. Why it failed is not clear. Some say it exploded, but we not certain about that. Clearly, it’s progress. This looks like lofted high angle trajectory, which suits anti BMD missions. We might add that India has also tested an IRBM, the Agni III, which is partly meant to target China. The US demands that China rein in North Korea’s missile programme, but supports India, an NPT rogue state, joining the Missile Technology Control Regime.