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Update: North Korea conducts test-launch of new surface-to-air missile

North Korea's Academy of Defence Science (ADS) has test-launched what it claims to be a newly developed surface-to-air missile.

The test-launch was conducted on 30 September to confirm the “general combat functions” of the missile and its accompanying radar, launch system, and command-and-control vehicle, reads a report from the state-run North Korean news outlet Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), on 1 October.

Based on an image of the launch released by KCNA, the missile is a two-stage design, consisting of a jettisonable booster and a powered second stage. In terms of dimensions, the missile appears to be over 5 m in length, which in conjunction with the two-stage design indicates that the missile is intended for the long-range air defence role. Based on the design of the nose, the missile would appear to use a radar guidance system, although it is unclear whether the designers have opted for an active or semi-active radar seeker.

Information from the ADS published in the KCNA report states that the vertically launched missile features “twin rudder control and double impulse flight engine”, which is understood to refer to two sets of flight control surfaces on the missile and a dual-thrust main rocket motor. One set of flight control surfaces is believed to be located behind the nose (canards), and the second set at the very rear of the main missile body. These are supplemented by two sets of stabilisation fins, with one set located forward of the tail, and the other set fitted to the booster.

The KCNA image suggests that the missile test-fired is the Pon'gae-6 surface-to-air missile system that was seen at a parade in October 2020, given similarities in the launch container arrangement, and the 10-wheeled transporter erector launcher (TEL) vehicle.

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