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North Korea fires salvo of possible anti-ship cruise missiles into sea, say South Korean officials

Pyongyang fired what appeared to be a salvo of short-range anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs) into the East Sea (also known as the Sea of Japan) on 14 April – the eve of the 108th anniversary of the birth of North Korea’s late founder Kim Il-sung –, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

In a statement issued that same day the JCS said the as yet unidentified projectiles were fired in a north-easterly direction from an area near the coastal town of Munchon in North Korea’s eastern Kangwon Province at around 07.00 h local time. The projectiles flew a distance of around 150 km before falling into the sea, said the officials, adding that the firings lasted for more than 40 minutes.

A JCS official told Jane’s that Seoul believes North Korea may have tested the same anti-ship cruise missile system it tested on 8 June 2017. Referred to as the KN-19 by US Forces Korea (USFK), this mobile coastal defence system was first publicly displayed by the communist regime on 15 April 2017 in a parade to mark the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung. On that day Pyongyang paraded a number of tracked transporter-erector-launchers (TELs) carrying launch tubes consistent with the North Korean version of the Russian 3M24 ASCM.

The 3M24-like missile had previously been fired from North Korean missile patrol boats, but the June 2017 test-launch marked the first time that the missile was shown being fired from a land-based vehicle. The TEL seen carrying the missile at the time appeared to be based on the 2P19 tracked vehicle clone that North Korea uses as a TEL for R-17 'Scud'-type short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs).

In June 2017 North Korea test-fired a salvo of the country's version of the Russian 3M24 ASCM. (KCNA)

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