5 Facts about North Korea's Latest Generation Hwasong-18 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile

5 Facts about North Korea's Latest Generation Hwasong-18 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
5 Facts about North Korea's Latest Generation Hwasong-18 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile

Pyongyang - The Hwasong-18 is a new generation of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) made by North Korea which was first tested during a military parade in February 2023. This advanced missile represents a significant leap of progress for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) reported that North Korea's Hwasong-18 was launched for the first time on April 12, 2023, at approximately 7:23 a.m. from a site near Pyongyang, North Korea's capital. According to a South Korean military source, North Korea's ballistic missile test conducted on April 13 recorded that the Hwasong-18 was fired at a high trajectory, reaching a range of about 1,000 kilometers before crashing into waters east of the Korean Peninsula.

However, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency provided additional detail that the Hwasong missile's peak altitude during its flight was likely to be less than 3,000 kilometers.

Here are 5 facts about the Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile.

1. Missiles with Solid Fuel

The Hwasong-18 missile is a three-stage solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Solid-propellant missiles use a solid propellant consisting of fuel and oxidizer tightly packed into the rocket motor. This mixture is stable and can be stored for a long time without significant degradation. Solid-fuel ICBMs are usually more mobile, as they can be easily transported by vehicle without the need for additional refueling equipment.

2. Faster Launch

The Hwasong-18 missile has a shorter launch preparation time because it is solid fuel so the propellant is already available in the missile. The use of solid fuel also makes the Hwasong-18 missile more responsive to sudden launch orders.

Liquid-fueled ICBMs take longer to launch because they require additional time for refueling. This rapid readiness allows for a quicker response to emerging threats, potentially preventing the adversary from launching the first attack.

3. Designed to Carry Nuclear Warheads

The Hwasong-18 missile is designed to deliver nuclear and conventional warheads over long distances, typically thousands of kilometers. The Hwasong missile is primarily used as a strategic weapon for deterrence purposes.

Typically ICMB missiles are used to target military installations, such as command and control centers, missile silos, air bases, naval bases and troop concentrations. So the development of the Hwasong-18 signals a considerable transformation in the strategic landscape of North Korea's regional security.

4. Longer Shooting Range

The range and altitude of a solid fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) depends on its design, size and specific payload. Generally, ICBMs are designed to have a minimum range of 5,500 kilometers to be classified as "intercontinental".

However, some modern solid-fuel ICBMs can achieve much greater ranges, even exceeding 12,000 kilometers. The peak altitude, or apogee, of an ICBM's flight path can vary depending on the range and trajectory of the missile. For long-range ICBMs, the peak can be up to 1,200 kilometers or higher.

5. Structure of a 3-Stage ICBM

The Hwasong-18 is a three-stage or part ICBM, which is used to propel the missile to its target. The first stage is the boost stage, which is responsible for lifting the missile off the ground and accelerating it to high speed. The boost stage usually uses a liquid-fuel rocket engine, which provides high thrust for a short time. Once the missile reaches a certain altitude and speed, the first stage drops and the middle stage takes over.

The midcourse stage is responsible for guiding the missile towards its target, using a combination of internal guidance systems and external tracking systems. The final stage of missile flight is the terminal stage, which is responsible for ensuring that the missile hits its target precisely. The terminal stage typically uses a small rocket engine, which can make fine adjustments to the missile's trajectory to ensure it hits its target.

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