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NORTH KOREA: Quest for an ICBM infographic




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Quest for an ICBM

Graphic News

January 27, 2017 -- South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo has reported that North Korea has placed what appear to be two inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) on mobile launchers. The country has never successfully launched an ICBM.

North Korea has in the past paraded mockups of road-mobile ICBM designs -- the KN-08 (also known as the Hwasong-13) and KN-14 (Hwasong-14) -- to be fired from a 16-wheel transporter erector launcher (TEL).

In 2016, North Korea conducted eight flight tests of a Musudan (Hwasong-10) intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM).

All but one test failed, with the rocket exploding on takeoff or shortly after. The single successful flight on, June 21, reached an altitude of over 1,000 km. The 1,000 km-mark means that the missile made it out of the Earth’s atmosphere.

ICBMs work by hurling their warhead into space, using a ballistic trajectory to reach their target. Gravity and air resistance do most of the work in the reentry and terminal phases.

The exhaust plume seen in photographs of the Musudan launches confirm the missile uses the 4D10 engine originally designed and built for the Soviet R-27 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).

Proof that North Korea has access to the 4D10 engines means that road-mobile KN-08 or KN-14 ICBMs are possible.

In April 2016, North Korea ground tested a pair of 4D10 engines clustered together to demonstrate a possible first-stage propulsion system for a potential ICBM.

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