North Korea’s Korean People’s Army Navy conducted a test launch of an anti-ship missile off the country’s east coast in the presence of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the Korean Central News Agency reported Saturday.
The test, which likely took place on Friday as most official reports of Kim’s activity are published the next morning, was of an anti-ship missile derived from the Russian-designed Kh-35 Uran. The existence of this missile in the KPA inventory was first revealed in early June of last year in a North Korean military documentary video. Other footage has revealed the presence of launch racks for such a missile on North Korean naval vessels, including the Najin-class frigate as part of an ongoing modernization of these vessels.
Today’s report marks the first time Pyongyang’s state media has shown images of this missile together with descriptions of the weapon’s function and North Korea’s intentions for it. KCNA described the missile as a “new-type anti-ship rocket to be deployed for action at naval units of KPA before long.” The report also characterized the missile as “ultra-precision” and “intelligent,” being capable of precisely tracking and hitting an enemy naval vessel.
North Korea took the opportunity to highlight both the military capabilities gained from this weapon as well as the proficiency of the North’s arms industry. State media described the missile as “capable of striking any enemy fleet of battleships at will from a long distance.” Taken together with a KPA anti-naval drill last month which simulated strikes against a United States Navy aircraft carrier, it is evident that Pyongyang seeks to demonstrate its capabilities as deterrents against foreign navies.
Pyongyang continues to seek new and improved modern military capabilities to deter its enemies, portray itself as a strong military power, and demonstrate the successes of its own technological and industrial development efforts. Long-range, precision weapons, especially those which can launched from mobile platforms such as naval vessels, are particularly effective deterrents since they can strike at enemy forces at greater distances and from less predictable locations.
In addition to Kim, officials present at the test included Rear Admiral Jin Chol Su, commander of the KPA Navy’s East Sea Fleet – making his third appearance with Kim – who reportedly lead the test, and Hong Yong Chil, deputy director of the Machine-Building Industry Department and leading official in the North’s arms development and production industry. Hong is usually present at tests of new weapons as well as inspections of arms production facilities.
Featured image: Rodong Sinmun
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