On Saturday, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff General Park Han-ki, said the Republic of Korea Armed Forces had tracked two North Korean KN24 short-range ballistic missile launches into the Sea of Japan. The launches took place in the morning from a launch site near North Korea’s Sonchon county in North Pyongan province. The launches were five minutes apart, with the first at 6:45 a.m. and the second at 6:50 a.m. local time reported by CSIS’S Missile Threat.
The two KN24 short-range ballistic missiles flew to a range of around 410 kilometers, with a maximum in-flight altitude of 50 kilometers. The tests followed two other test events earlier this month that featured testing of a large-caliber close-range ballistic missile system, known as the KN25, in joint artillery drills. The missiles launched Saturday struck an island off North Korea’s East Coast. The test was successful, according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
The KN24 is a short-range ballistic missile that bears an outward resemblance to the U.S. Army’s MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS). Rather than following a general parabolic trajectory,the missiles were detected to have shown a more complicated path by doing a so-called pull-up maneuver over the course of their flight. As seen in the ATACMS flight trajectory, the pull-up maneuver, designed to avoid interception, has raised concerns that it could outmaneuver anti-missile systems in the South, such as the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) interceptors.
North Korea has often brought its weapons to western regions to fly them all the way across its territory before they splashed into the East Sea in a move to verify their reliability, according to experts. Throughout 2019, North Korea carried out a total of 13 rounds of weapons tests, including the latest one in November, involving several new types of short-range ballistic missiles and a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). It is the third time that the North has carried out such weapons tests so far this year after they began in March following months of hiatus.