Each time that North Korea conducts missile testing the media sites within the United States explode into a panic and only increase paranoia on U.S. soil. The reality is N. Korea is far from reaching the technological levels to hit the U.S. mainland. Although a N. Korean missile attack directed on American soil remains distant possibility, the threat to the Republic of Korea (ROK) and U.S. troops stationed there could be in the not so distant future.
The KN-2 missile system has been reverse engineered from a Russian OTR-21 Tochka mobile missile launching platform. Although this system has the shortest range of all the missiles in N. Korea’s arsenal, it could be retrofitted with a tactical nuclear warhead. With its nuclear possibility, it remains the greatest threat to South Korea and U.S. troop located within the green zone. One interesting fact about the KN-2 is that its flight is very similar to our U.S. Cruise Missiles and would be very difficult for the Patriot Missile defense to disable. There are not very many photographs or documentation of the KN-2, but it appears something like the Russian Tachka below.
The North Korean SCUDs, much like the KN-2, have been reverse engineered from similar Russian and Soviet era short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM). N. Korea has renamed their own versions of the SCUD -B and C the Hwasong-5 and Hwasong-6. According to U.S. Department of Defense intelligence agencies these rocket system are in constant change and are continuously being worked to improve accuracy, payload, and nuclear capabilities.
Historically, SCUD missile systems have been very inaccurate compared to NATO counterparts such as the U.S. MLRS. What is important about these systems is that they are capable of hitting many major East Asian cities in South Korea and Japan. Even though Kim Jong-un has declared that they have yet to manufacture a nuclear warhead small enough to fit their missile systems, it remains a matter of time before these statements become void.
(Hopefully I’m not the only one who smiles a bit when I hear/read this)
Very little is known about the NO DONG. Much of what the U.S. intelligence community knows is from satellite imagery. This system is basically a SCUD variant that was once again reverse engineered from Chinese systems and increased in size from the original SCUD-B. From satellite imagery the missile is about 4′ in diameter and 45 feet in length. Estimates of the missile, when properly calibrated, could reach distances of 800 miles.
N. Korean IRBM (Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile)
Once again not much is known about N. Korea’s IRBM and thought to have been reverse engineered from a SS-N-6 Serb and Soviet R-27 submarine-launched ballistic missile. Watch at :50 at the video below to get an idea how the missile appears in one of many of North Korea’s propaganda parades. Estimated rages can be observed in the graphic at the end of the page.
The TD-2 seems the most capable of reaching the U.S. mainland and as of December 2012 one such missile launched into orbit above the earths atmosphere. The missiles reëntry capabilities remain the consistent roadblock for the N. Korea government. Without the reëntry systems this missile cannot have the capabilities of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).
Although North Korea posses all and are working on variants of the listed missile systems, the chances that they actually launch a full-out attack against ROK, Japan, or the United States seems unlikely. North Korea is irrational and sporadic with their diplomacy, but I don’t see them wanting to engage in a full-blown ass whooping by any Western power.
Stay tuned for more discussions on North Korean AirForce, Infantry, Artillery capabilities, and what a full on attack on North Korea could entail.
(Featured Image Courtesy: MASHUP.COM)