Sunday, July 30, 2017


If David/Gerald et al who, just a few weeks ago, were arguing the toss as to whether or not North Korea possessed a ICBM capability would like to revise their assessment following the DKR's successful launch on Friday of a missile that could reportedly hit Chicago.

There's no doubt in my mind that North Korea is a rogue state hell bent on developing the capability of delivering a nuclear missile strike against the continental United States as some sort insurance against a perceived American threat in latter day equivalent of MAD.

This against a backdrop of new sanctions against the Russian Federation, the DKR and Iran due to be signed into law by President Trump next week.

Both Russia and Iran are somewhat predictable in their maneuverings.    Not so with North Korea.   It remains predictable in its unpredictability.      

Updated ... The US DIA has revised their assessment as to when the Pyongyang regime will be capable of fitting their ICBMs with nuclear warheads from 2021 to 2018. 


Noel said...

38 North suggests there is some way to go.

"Early Observations of North Korea's Latest Missile Tests

By Michael Elleman

On July 4, 2017, North Korea conducted its first test of a two-stage Hwasong-14 ballistic missile, which reached an apogee of about 2,800 km. If flown on a standard trajectory, this means the Hwasong-14 would have a maximum range in excess of 7,500 km-intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) range-and may be able to reach the US west coast if armed with a warhead weighing 650 kg or less. However, the Hwasong-14 tested on July 4 was not optimally designed to achieve maximum range. Instead, it appears to have been a prototype designed to maximize the probability of a successful maiden flight by relying on flight-proven stages.

The Hwasong-14 tested on July 4 employed a first stage based on the Hwasong-12, but with a slightly larger diameter to carry more propellant. The second stage was similar to the third stage of North Korea's satellite launch vehicle, the Unha. For an ICBM, however, the second stage was under-sized and under-powered, making it ill-suited for use on a ballistic missile. One would assume that future tests of the Hwasong-14 would require North Korea to reconfigure the second stage for better performance.

On July 28, North Korea launched a ballistic missile that reportedly flew for 45 minutes, reaching a peak altitude of 3,000 km, and a slightly longer range than the previous test. While the type of missile tested is yet unconfirmed, these data, if accurate, are fully consistent with a Hwasong-14 tested with a larger second stage that is powered by a high-thrust engine. If flown on a flatter trajectory, this missile could reach as far as 9,000 to 10,000 km. More information, including videos and photographs, will help identify the new second stage engine, and pinpoint its performance capacity.

However, if the above assessment is correct, North Korea seems to have made a logical step forward, as it tries to perfect the technologies to build and field an operationally-viable ICBM that can threaten the mainland United States. More tests are needed to assess and validate the reliability of the Hwasong-14, so North Korea is sure to follow this launch with many more.

Gerald said...

Add to that the need for a workable guidance system and a nuclear bomb that would fit in the nose that launch wasn't a threat to anyone except Japanese fishing vessels.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Gerald reminds me of those wise British armchair generals in 1939 who wrote off the Japanese as 'a nation of little monkeys with no technical ability.'

Gerald said...

I would like to think the assessments I read reflect the past when the US military was elevating the USSR's missile capability far above their actual performance.

Andrei said...

Nonsense North Korea is a State that has been impoverished by the most aggressive Nation on the planet keeping it almost totally isolated for 65 years and has spent that time posturing with troops and weapon systems along its Southern land border and ever more heavily armed warships along her coasts

Needless to say the North Koreans have developed a siege mentality because that is exactly the position they find themselves in

And as everybody knows the USA could bomb North Korea back into the stone age as has happened to many other Nations that had the temerity not to obey the ""Leader of the Free World" in the intervening years - whose definition of democracy is the people elect someone who will pay homage to us and surrender their sovereignty to Washington DC

But what these launches are saying is if you attack us we can hurt you the way a bee hurts anything that attacks it before it dies

As for hitting the continental USA with a nuke, that is a long, long way off

The Veteran said...

Andrei ... re your last. Read the update. I take all you said with a grain of salt. It was the Kremlin that emboldened North Korea to attack the South with Russian fighter pilots front and centre in the conflict.

Andrei said...

Veteran ... re your last just one word and three letters Iraq's WMDs, I would take anything the US DIA might say with a huge grain of salt

FFS the relationship between anything coming out of the Washington DC establishment and reality is tenuous at best

The threat posed by North Korea to the citizens of Topeka Kansas or Parnell Auckland for that matter is essentially zero

BTW the MIGs that beat up the Americans in Korea were flown were Chinese not Russian though it is claimed some had Russian pilots - whatever it happened before I was born so who the fuck cares - The USA bombed at least seven countries in the last year of Obama's Presidency 2016 which makes something that happened in 1950 seem really irrelevant especially since the Soviet Union itself ceased to exist more than a quarter of a century ago

You are stuck in a time warp

The Veteran said...

Andrei ... well, I give a f**k and you trying to airbrush history doesn't wash with me.
Fact ... Kim Il-Sung was wedded to reunification of the two Koreas under a socialist regime. Soviet Ambassador Shtykov amd Kim successfully lobbied Stalin to support a blitzkrieg type invasion of the South with culminated in the outbreak of the Korean war.

Russian pilots were front and centre in the conflict and the 'police action' produced a number of aces including Aleksandr Smorchkov (12 victories); Nikolay Ivanov (6); Semyon Fedorets (8); Yevgeny Pepelyayev (19) and Sergei Kramarenko (13).

Back to the case at point. The launch of the ICBM was not fiction and one of the few things that I and President Trump can agree on is that the DKR must be prevented from developing a nuclear missile capability.

David said...

Andrei ... well, I give a f**k and you trying to airbrush history doesn't wash with me.

Airbrushing history is exactly what you are doing with your insistence that North Korea was the aggressor, when all they were trying to do was take back their country. Korea had been under the Japanese thumb and the Americans crushed all attempts by Koreans to establish their nation's independence.

The People's Republic of Korea was established after the defeat of Japan and operated as an interim government until it was crushed by the Imperialist USA.

Andrei said...

"Andrei ... well, I give a f**k and you trying to airbrush history doesn't wash with me."

Russian pilots were front and centre in the conflict and the 'police action' produced a number of aces including Aleksandr Smorchkov (12 victories); Nikolay Ivanov (6); Semyon Fedorets (8); Yevgeny Pepelyayev (19) and Sergei Kramarenko (13).

Of course what you omit Veteran is that the air battles involving these gentlemen did not take place in Korea neither the North nor South but in the skies over China. All of North Korea's electricity was produced in China and the hydroelectric dams that produced this power were of particular interest to the USAF bombers and that the Russian squadrons that protected them were there at the express invitation of the Chinese Government

Anonymous said...

All a bit far fetched at the moment, as I suggested in a previous, you need a hell of a lot more than to defeat the anti missile screens .....

Andrei......This from the Washington post gives some credibility to your story and makes sobering reading..

But your belief that Soviet pilots fought over China is completely wrong. Mig Alley and the Sui-Ho dam is in Nth Korea and Mig Alley is where the air combat took place. The South African Airforce played a big part in that battle. Google it.

Lord Egbut

The Veteran said...

Andrei ... more to the point and clearly you are relaxed about the DKR obtaining an ICBM nuclear capability .. I'm not.

Egbut ... bombing and war crimes!!!! FFS, who started the war. You're not one of those who vilify 'Bomber' Harris are you?

David said...

Andrei ... more to the point and clearly you are relaxed about the DKR obtaining an ICBM nuclear capability .. I'm not.

Not sure why. The DKR has had the ability to obliterate Seoul for 20 years, and yet has not done so. It is their insurance policy. The USA has had ICBMs aimed at the DKR for 60 years. Can you see why they may feel threatened? The USA also has ICBMs aimed at just about anywhere on the planet where civilised people live. I know who frightens me more.

Egbut ... bombing and war crimes!!!! FFS, who started the war.

For someone who claims to be a war historian of sorts, you can sure suffer from tunnel vision. The war started when Japan was defeated, the Koreans attempted to establish their own national government, The People's Republic of Korea, which is not the same as the later Democratic People's Republic of Korea. As is its usual post WW2 pattern, the USA crushed any moves to independence. See elsewhere around the world, starting with Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Chile, Venezuela, Mexico, Argentina, et al.

War Crimes are war crimes and not determined by "who started it", but rather by who won.

The Realist said...

What chances have any Korean missiles got of getting through the American defence systems anyway?

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

For once David, I agree with you.

"The war started when Japan was defeated. The Koreans attempted to establish their own national government, The People's Republic of Korea, which is not the same as the later Democratic People's Republic of Korea. But the USA crushed any moves to independence."

(With new corrected and better grammar and punctuation)

Adolf Fiinkensein said...


Short range missiles travel a hell of a lot slower than ICBMs re-entering the atmosphere (I think?) otherwise the Yanks and Brits might not have for decades put aloft 24/7 atomic armed aircraft.

Noel said...

38 north update
What Next for North Korea's ICBM?

By John Schilling

Less than a month after their first successful ICBM test, North Korea has done it again. The missile tested on July 28 appears to be identical to the liquid-fueled KN-20 (Hwasong-14) missile launched on July 4. This missile, however, demonstrated substantially greater range--possibly sufficient to reach the east coast of the United States--but only with a substantially reduced payload. Second, possibly because of the reduced reentry vehicle (RV) weight, the RV appears to have disintegrated before reaching the ground, and thus the test may not have been completely successful. Third, this was the first time the North Koreans have conducted at launch at night, suggesting an emphasis on demonstrating operational rather than experimental launch procedures.

While Pyongyang may have an ICBM, the threat is currently limited to unsophisticated warheads against targets on the US west coast. North Korea will likely have to turn to an upgraded design to achieve their goal of a robust capability to retaliate against targets on the east coast, including Washington, for any attack on North Korea. While the KN-20 may have some deterrent value even in its current, unreliable form, it will likely take another year or two of work to achieve full operational capability. If the North pursues the objective of fielding a new solid-propellant ICBM, that will likely only be another few years beyond that.

The combination of increased performance and a night launch, contrary to North Korea's hopes, reveal the probable failure of this test. Rather than landing far out to sea, this missile entered the atmosphere within sight of Japan, and it did so in a clear night sky. Several cameras on the Japanese island of Hokkaido caught the incandescent trail of the reentry vehicle. As my colleague Michael Elleman notes, the trail flashes briefly and brightly as the missile descends for 6-8 km, and a second or so thereafter breaks up into at least two visible objects and a vapor trail. The initial flash could be due to the reentry vehicle passing close to a reflective cloud, or it could be a part of the heat shield breaking off and vaporizing. Whatever the cause of the flash, the subsequent breakup is telling. We cannot be certain, but it seems unlikely that a warhead would have survived that experience.

The missile was reported to have reached an altitude of over 3,700 km, remaining airborne for 47 minutes. That's a substantially higher level of performance than what the missile displayed on its first launch. This means, if the missile had been launched on a maximum-range trajectory, it could have reached Chicago or possibly even New York City. North Korea has given us a clue as to how that happened, with a press release indicating that the number of engines has increased. The trajectory of the first KN-20 indicates that its upper stage was propelled by a set of two vernier engines from an old Soviet submarine-launched ballistic missile whose technology is known to have fallen into North Korean hands. This same propulsion system was used on North Korea's successful Unha space launch vehicle, but doesn't produce enough thrust for optimal performance with heavy nuclear warheads. There is room in the upper stage to add a second pair of vernier engines, and we suspect this was done.