At first glance, the tactical guided weapon is a more mobile and capable weapon system than the DPRK’s previous SCUD series, using a transporter erector launcher (TEL) and solid fuel.
This is a marked improvement, and will likely provide better survival odds and give the North the ability to strike without warning. This improvement in first strike capability will be a significant challenge for the defender.
The North also demonstrated 240 mm and 300 mm multiple rockets and a new self-propelled artillery vehicle. Although South Korea has long known about the improvements being made to the DPRK’s artillery, it was the first time that the 300 mm rocket/missile was tested in public.
The new self-propelled artillery vehicle was not expected. Again, North Korea has gained overkill capability against South Korea, and most of us are not impressed.
Still, there are some things to consider.
First, the 300mm rocket is actually a guided missile. Unlike its sister-types in other countries, the North Korean version appears to have a longer range. They seem to have achieved this by adding a terminal guidance system that allows for a smaller and lighter warhead, which could lead to the longer range.
They also demonstrated that they are intent on firing a mix of 240mm and 300mm rockets/missiles — another challenge for the defender.
This author’s main concern is that North Korea now has the ability to bombard the South Korean Tri-service headquarters in Daejeon, not to mention U.S. forces, with conventional weapons.
Another part of this story is the new self-propelled artillery (SPA) vehicle. First, the fact that North Korea is investing in such a system is surprising: one would think that they already have enough, and that with their nuclear capability these kinds of conventional force upgrades would take a back-seat. It makes one wonder if their economy is really in hardship.
The new vehicle has a hard turret, which is also a new trend for North Korea, and will provide more protection for the crew. Mobility is likely better than older systems, as is fire control and set up.
All of these developments could mean a new trend in how North Korea thinks about warfare, but further analysis must be conducted to figure out their intent.
The North Koreans also have a long history of weapons trade with foreign nations that are destabilizing influences — it should come as no surprise to anyone if the new guided rocket/missile shows up in another part of the world.
The implications of such a development should not be overlooked. The proliferation of conventional weapons and related technology is a real danger, especially in the hands of non-government entities.
Protecting South Korea from these new North Korean capabilities will require more defense spending
The North Koreans fired four short-range missiles this month: each must have cost at least a million U.S. dollars. Therefore, the artillery training exercise must have cost North Korea something between five to ten million dollars. That’s a lot of money for a country whose people are in economic hardship.
This is a very unfortunate development, especially at a time when South Korea is trying to establish peace and a lasting solution to the security issue on the Korean peninsula.
On a brighter side, these efforts will divert resources from improving long-range missile improvements, as well as other strategic initiatives.
Finally, protecting South Korea from these new North Korean capabilities will require more defense spending. The evasive capabilities of the North Korean missile will complicate alliance defenses, but developing a response is not impossible.
The most challenging aspect for defending against a threat like this is the need to maintain a constant readiness posture — in other words, keeping your radars on. More defensive radars and people to operate them will be required, as well as more missiles.
It seems that North Korea thinks it can intimidate the world and “force” South Korea and the U.S. to accept its demands. All this shows Pyongyang’s misunderstanding of the world around them and their inability to tell it like it is to the great leader.
If North Korea keeps to this trend it will only lead to more demonstrations of improved capability on their part and make it harder to achieve peace.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: KCNA
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