Updated June. 28, 2014 06:54
North Korea announced on Friday that it successfully conducted test firing of a newly developed tactical guided missile, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in attendance. The Norths Korean Central News Agency reported on the day Kim figured out specifications of the tactical precision guided missile at a command center, and ordered the military in person to launch test firing.
The South Korean military said what the North calls "tactical guided missile" refers to the new KN-09 multiple rocket launcher, which it fired into East Sea waters from a base in north of Wonsan, Gangwon Province on Thursday.
A source in the South Korean military said, North Korea is believed to have completed verification of precision strike capability with its KN-09. The North Korean militarys conventional 240-mm multiple rocket launcher offers a max range of 50 to 65 km and a low accurate rate due to lack of a guiding device. In fact, of more than 170 shots fired by the North during its artillery attacks on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong in 2010, 90 shots fell into the sea and the remaining 80 fell to random locations of inland areas on Yeonpyeong Island.
In contrast, the KN-09 is reportedly equipped with "Glonas," a Russian-made global positioning system. The launcher provides a max range of 180 to 190 km, nearly three times that of its conventional multiple rocket launchers. If deployed near Kaesong, the launcher can allow precision strike at a target not only at the U.S. military bases in Osan and Pyeongtaek but also Gyeryongdae (the headquarters of the Army, Navy and Air Force) in South Chungcheong Province.
A source in the South Korean military said, The North could have reduced the KN-09s scope of target error margin to within dozens of meters, adding, This means that the Norths threat of multiple rocket launchers has evolved from firing in massive volume to precision strike. Notably, analyst say the fact that the North widely carried the news on the success of the KN-09s test firing in the presence of Kim Jong Un, who majored in artillery at Kim Il Sung Military University, provides circumstantial evidence in this regard.
The South Korean military predicts the North will soon start mass producing the KN-09, and increase the deployment of the artillery gun, while accelerating work to install guiding systems in the conventional multiple launchers. A multiple launcher fires cannon balls rather than missiles, and the South Korean military will be able to intercept them with the Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD), which the military is pushing to introduce by the early 2020s.
Meanwhile, the U.S. raised doubt about the Norths claim that it succeeded in test firing of a missile. Quoting an official with the U.S. Defense Department who reportedly monitored the Norths test firing of missile, CNN reported, There was no sign whatsoever that the North has developed a new technology.