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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

KN-18 Precision Ballistic Missile

The KN18 is the SRBM with terminal maneuverability that North Korea first flight-tested in late-May 2017. That missile was first seen at the April 15, 2017 military parade in Pyongyang, it was initially and erroneously assumed to have been an anti-ship ballistic missile.

In the early hours of 30 May 2017 North Korea launched what appeared to be a short-range missile from Wonsan on its east coast. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile is assumed to be Scud-class and it flew about 450 kilometers; the US Pacific Command has said the missile was tracked from North Korea for six minutes before it landed in the sea inside Japan's exclusive economic zone.

South Korea's JCS condemned the launch, calling it a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions and warned Pyongyang to stop its provocations, which hinder the peace and security of the region. President Moon Jae-in immediately called an emergency national security council meeting. It was chaired by NSC chief Chung Eui-yong and lasted for roughly 45 minutes.

This was the ninth missile test the North has carried out this year, defying world pressure and threats of more sanctions. But it also comes in defiance of a fresh declaration published by the G7 leaders just days earlier in which all seven member states pledged to strengthen their measures against North Korea unless it agrees to abandon its nuclear and missile programs.

North Korea staged a massive military parade in Pyongyang on 14 April 2017 to mark the 105th birthday anniversary of its late founder Kim Il-sung, a holiday known as the Day of the Sun. Korean Central TV said the nation's cutting-edge striking and defense means had been lined up for the event. This event marked the first sighting of the KN-18, a single-stage, liquid-fueled missile. The KN-17 is a mobile missile seemingly designed to attack targets such as American aircraft carriers at sea.

The functionally related observable difference [FROD - pronounced "fraud"] that defines the KN-18 is the presence of small vanes at the base of the reentry vehicle. Presumably these would be used to maneuver the warhead after it reentered the atmosphere to guide it to a small target such as an aircraft carrier. Similar vanes were used on the American Pershing-2 to provide high accuracy. Or these could be fake vanes, pasted onto the rocket, intended to excite various audiences, domestic and foreign.

The KN-18 rentry vehicle appeared to be of a type which transitions from exoatmospheric ballistic motion to aerodynamic flight within the atmosphere. Observers deemed it to be capable of aerodynamic, rather than purely ballistic, motion. A significant change in specific energy of a missile during what was previously ballistic flight indicates that additional energy is being added to the missile system and is indicative of a maneuver. The addition of energy may increase or decrease the specific energy.

There are many aspects to the problems of engaging hostile missiles. For example, there are limitations on the knowledge of where and when a missile launch may take place, so the sensors or intelligence necessary for accurate identification and tracking may not be available or in place. If the path of the hostile missile is not known, it cannot, in general, be engaged, and may achieve its hostile intent. If sensors such as radar or infrared systems are available, they may produce useful target tracking information, but such sensors are subject to the deleterious effects of noise and various types of uncertainty.

One type of atmospheric re-entry vehicle (RV) is a ballistic RV which, after an initial launch and boost phase, follows a substantially purely ballistic path after separation from a launch vehicle. That is, the position of the RV target can be predetermined if the velocity of the RV and if the boost phase trajectory is known. One disadvantage associated with a purely ballistic RV is that, inasmuch as the target position can be predetermined after separation, interception of the RV can be readily accomplished.

To improve survivability, it is thus desirable to provide an improved type of RV which is an evader maneuvering RV (EMRV) capable of executing in-flight evasive maneuvering operations after re-entry. Inasmuch as the trajectory of the EMRV after re-entry would not be required to be purely ballistic, the position of the EMRV's target would remain uncertain until the completion of the maneuverers. Thus, interception of the EMRV would be made difficult to accomplish.

Continued proliferation of long range missiles and the fielding of sophisticated threats, such as the maneuvering re-entry vehicle, pose challenges for the fielded Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) weapon systems. However, as missile defense has evolved from World War II to the present day, the advent of the digital age and the emergence of a wide variety of non-kinetic techniques create asymmetric opportunities to augment the BMDS to assist in negation of ballistic missile threats and to rapidly inject intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) actionable decision aids into the often stressful offensive and defensive battle operations.

Engagement may be accomplished by use of an interceptor missile. Various missile tracking and interceptor missile control schemes have been proposed or used. In the continuing race between the designers of attack missiles and the designers of countermeasures, hostile missiles are improved by becoming more sophisticated. Among such improvements is the introduction of missile maneuvers during exo-atmospheric and endo-atmospheric flight. Such maneuvers may defeat ballistic missile engagement systems which are predicated on ballistic motion of the target. The identification of a aerodynamic maneuvering capability, in turn, can be used to trigger appropriate engagement system responses to preserve interceptor missile intercept capability. An expected intercept point within the atmosphere is determined, and an interceptor missile is guided toward the expected intercept point.

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Page last modified: 16-02-2018 19:04:53 ZULU