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North Korea claims to have tested newly developed ‘hypersonic' missile

North Korea has claimed that the weapon it test-launched into the East Sea (also known as Sea of Japan) on 28 September was a newly developed ‘hypersonic' missile called Hwasong-8 (also spelled Hwaseong-8).

Pyongyang's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported a day after the test that the country's Academy of Defence Science had launched the new missile type from the village of Toyang-ri located in the Ryongrim County of North Korea's Jagang (also spelled Chagang) Province, which borders China.

No details were released about the distance flown by the missile or its speed, but South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a 29 September statement that “given the detected speed and other features of the ‘hypersonic missile' … [the weapon] appears to be at an early stage of development that would require considerable time for actual deployment”, while pointing out that the missile can be detected and intercepted by South Korean and US military assets.

The Yonhap News Agency quoted unnamed sources as saying that the weapon reportedly flew at a speed of around Mach 3, although the South Korean military declined to confirm this. Hypersonic weapons are intended to operate at speeds of at least Mach 5, and boost-glide vehicles would typically be expected to fly at speeds several times that. Yonhap had also reported that this weapon showed “different flight features” from the missiles previously tested by the North.

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