North Korea tests new anti-aircraft weapon system
North Korea tested a new anti-aircraft system that leader Kim Jong Un says will “completely spoil the enemy’s dream to command the air,” the state news agency reported Sunday, following weeks of ballistic missile tests.
The KCNA news agency said glitches detected in an earlier test have been “perfectly overcome,” paving the way for the weapon to be mass produced and deployed nationwide, according to SkyNews.
State media reported the new weapon system is designed to “detect and strike different targets flying from any location.”
The latest test was attended by Kim Jong Un, in addition to three men believed to be the top officials in the reclusive country’s missile program.
The three men were identified by Reuters as Ri Pyong Chol, a former top air force general; Kim Jong Sik, a veteran rocket scientist; and Jang Chang Ha, the head of the Academy of National Defense Science, a weapons development and procurement center.
North Korean state media said the weapons system would stop hostile nations “boasting of air supremacy and weapon almighty.”
On Friday, officials said the Pentagon will try to shoot down an intercontinental-range missile for the first time in a test this week. The goal is to more closely simulate a North Korean ICBM aimed at the U.S. homeland, officials said.
North Korea is now the focus of U.S. efforts because its leader has vowed to field a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching American territory. He has yet to test an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, but Pentagon officials believe he is speeding in that direction.
Marine Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said last week that “left unchecked,” Kim will eventually succeed.
The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, which is responsible for developing and testing the system, has scheduled the intercept test for Tuesday.
An interceptor is to be launched from an underground silo at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and soar toward the target, which will be fired from a test range on Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific. If all goes as planned, the “kill vehicle” will slam into the ICBM-like target’s mock warhead high over the Pacific Ocean.
The target will be a custom-made missile meant to simulate an ICBM, meaning it will fly faster than missiles used in previous intercept tests, according to Christopher Johnson, spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency. The target is not a mock-up of an actual North Korean ICBM.
“We conduct increasingly complex test scenarios as the program matures and advances,” Johnson said Friday. “Testing against an ICBM-type threat is the next step in that process.”
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