Shorter firing interval indicates N.K.'s super-large rocket launcher almost ready for operation: experts
SEOUL. KAZINFORM North Korea's latest «volley test-firing» of a super-large multiple rocket launcher indicates that the communist nation is almost ready to put the weapon into operation, though questions remain over its reliability and precision, experts said Friday, Yonhap reports.
On Thursday, the North fired two short-range projectiles in quick succession from a super-large multiple rocket launcher from its eastern town of Yeonpo into the East Sea. Both flew around 380 kilometers at a maximum altitude of about 97 km, according to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
It was the fourth test of the system, following three tests on Aug. 24, Sept. 10, and Oct. 31.
While few differences were spotted in the flight ranges and the maximum altitudes of the projectiles fired from the system so far, it is noteworthy that there was a far shorter interval between the projectiles fired this time. The gap between the two launches was only 30 seconds, compared to 17 minutes in the initial test; 19 minutes in the second round; and three minutes in the third test.
«The primary purpose of the latest test is to verify its continuous-fire system, and the 30-second interval means that North Korea was quite successful in securing the capabilities that its leader Kim Jong-un has called for,» Shin Jong-woo, a senior analyst at the Korea Defense Security Forum in Seoul, said.
Pointing to images released by the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) showing two projectiles being fired from one transporter erector launcher (TEL) vehicle, professor Kim Dong-yup of Kyungnam University's Far East Institute forecast North Korea could put the weapon into operation in the near future.
«During the October launches, the North flew the missiles from its western region, which was also deemed successful. Now that it also proved the successive firing system, North Korea appears to be prepared soon for mass production and deployment,» he noted.