On Sunday, North Korea conducted a test firing of a new intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), claiming it to be the first of its kind. The missile’s solid fuel design enhances its ability to launch with minimal preparation.
According to state media, the new missile was also fitted with a warhead that could be controlled in hyperspace.
North Korea recently demonstrated its continued commitment to developing military capabilities with a solid-fuel missile launch, a daring move that has geopolitical analysts on high alert. This launch follows the nation’s announcement in November of having successfully tested solid-fuel engines for a new type of Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM), as well as several tests of the solid-fuel Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) conducted over the previous year. In North Korea’s missile program, the advancement of solid-fuel technology has taken centre stage, raising concerns about its importance and the strategic rationale behind it.
Solid-fuel missiles represent a significant technological development in propulsion systems, providing clear benefits over their liquid-fuel equivalents. Solid-fuel missiles have a major tactical advantage over liquid-fuel missiles because they can be stored for longer periods without deteriorating. Liquid-fuel missiles require fueling right before launch. This trait, according to Ankit Panda, a senior fellow at the U.S.-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, makes them more adaptable during times of crisis.
Solid-fuel missiles are also a preferred option due to their ease of operation and safety. They are simpler to use, require less logistical support, and have a more robust construction that increases their survivability. These characteristics help to make them more difficult to detect, which is important in modern warfare where surprise and stealth are vital advantages.