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(LEAD) N. Korea's 'new' ballistic missiles similar to Russia's Iskander: Seoul

All Headlines 12:31 July 26, 2019

(ATTN: RECASTS lead; ADDS more info throughout)

SEOUL, July 26 (Yonhap) -- The short-range missiles that North Korea test-fired this week were a new type of ballistic weapon similar to Russia's Iskander, the military authorities here said Friday, citing the projectiles' unique flight pattern.

North Korea on Thursday fired two short-range missiles into the East Sea from near the eastern coastal town of Wonsan, and both flew around 600 kilometers at an altitude of around 50 km, according to an officer at the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

They were initially presumed to have flown 430 km and 690 km, respectively, but, he added, "The military received updated data based upon an analysis conducted jointly by the South Korean and the U.S. intelligence authorities."

"Differing from a general parabolic trajectory, the Iskander performs a pull-up maneuver in the dive phase, and what North Korea fired yesterday showed a similar pattern," the officer noted.

This analysis is in line with a report by the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Friday, which said that its new tactical guided weapon system has the specific features of a "low-altitude gliding and leaping flight orbit."

The KCNA also said that the launches gave "satisfactory verification once again to the efficiency" of the weapons system, suggesting the missile's development has neared completion for field deployment.

The JCS officer said that the military authorities see it as very likely that this new type of missile is similar to those fired in May, adding that those launches "appear aimed at testing the new weapon."

On May 4, the North launched a fusillade of projectiles involving "a new type of tactical guided weapon" and 240-millimeter and 300-mm multiple rocket launcher systems. The projectiles flew about 70 km to 200 km, according to the JCS.

Five days later, it fired a further barrage of projectiles, including two short-range missiles that flew 270 km and 420 km.

There are several versions of the Iskander, and detailed specifications of Pyongyang's Iskander were not known. But the surface-to-surface ballistic missiles were previously known to be able to fly as far as 500 km.

Pyongyang showed off its version of the Iskander for the first time during a military parade in February 2018, but did not test-fire it until May.

"Since its first launch in May, North Korea is believed to have improved the capabilities of the new weapon," a military source said, requesting anonymity.

(LEAD) N. Korea's 'new' ballistic missiles similar to Russia's Iskander: Seoul - 1

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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