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Analysis: The Threats of North Korea Hwasong-17 ICBM missile and combat capabilities

Last week, it has been confirmed by North Korea that they launched a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile. In this article, we will explain the operational and combat capabilities of this ballistic missile.
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North Korea fired an Hwasong-17 ICBM intercontinental ballistic missile on March 17, 2023, (Picture source North Korea Media)

On Thursday, March 17, 2023, South Korea and Japan detected the launch of a banned missile, which is the most recent in a series of weapon tests. These tests have coincided with the joint military exercises called Freedom Shield between the United States and South Korea.

South Korea views these exercises as a rehearsal for invasion. According to Pyongyang, the missile had a maximum altitude of approximately 6,000 km (3,700 miles) and flew around 1,000 km (620 miles). It landed accurately on a preset area in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea of Korea.

The Hwasong-17 is a type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) developed by North Korea. It was first tested in November 2019 and is believed to be an improvement over the Hwasong-15 ICBM, which was tested in 2017.

The Hwasong-17 is a significant development for North Korea's nuclear and missile program, as it demonstrates the country's ability to develop more advanced and capable ballistic missiles. The development of the Hwasong-17 has raised concerns among the international community about North Korea's nuclear and missile capabilities and has led to increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula and in the broader region.

An ICBM, or Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, is a type of missile that is designed to be launched from one continent and travel across the Earth's atmosphere to strike a target on another continent. ICBMs are typically nuclear-capable and are considered a key component of a country's strategic nuclear arsenal.

The Hwasong-17 is designed to be able to carry a nuclear warhead and is believed to have a range of up to 13,000 km, which would put the continental United States within range. The missile is said to use a new engine and a re-entry vehicle that can withstand the heat and pressure of re-entering the Earth's atmosphere.

The Hwasong-17 ICBM is considered a threat to the United States due to its long range and potential to carry a nuclear warhead. With its firing range of 13,000 km, the missile would put the continental United States within range.

If equipped with a nuclear warhead, the Hwasong-17 could potentially cause significant damage and loss of life if it were to strike a populated area. The missile's advanced technology and mobility make it difficult to detect and intercept, which further increases its effectiveness as a potential weapon.

The Threats of North Korea Hwasong 17 ICBM missile and combat capabilities analysis 925 002
The Hwasong-17 ICBM missile is transported on a 16-wheel heavy-duty truck chassis. It can reach a target at a range of up to 13,000 km. (Picture source North Korea Media)

The Hwasong-17 ICBM missile is transported on a 16-wheel heavy-duty truck chassis. The TEL (Transporter Erector Launcher) has multiple axles and wheels to distribute the weight of the missile and launcher equipment, and to provide stability and maneuverability during transport and launch operations. The use of a large number of wheels also helps to reduce the ground pressure and prevent damage to the launcher and missile during transport over rough terrain.

The TEL is equipped with a hydraulic system that can raise the missile into a vertical launch position, and it has stabilizers and leveling systems that ensure the missile is stable and upright during launch.

The guidance system of the Hwasong-17 ICBM developed by North Korea is not publicly known, as the country has not disclosed details about the missile's technology. However, it is believed that the missile uses an advanced inertial guidance system that allows it to navigate and adjust its flight path during the boost and mid-course phases of flight.

Inertial guidance systems use gyroscopes and accelerometers to measure the missile's position, velocity, and acceleration, and they use this information to calculate the missile's flight path and make adjustments to stay on course. The accuracy of the guidance system is critical to the effectiveness of the missile, as even small errors in trajectory can cause the missile to miss its intended target.

In addition to its inertial guidance system, the Hwasong-17 may also use other guidance technologies, such as satellite-based navigation systems, to enhance its accuracy and reliability. However, the exact details of the missile's guidance technology are not publicly known, and much of the information about the missile's capabilities comes from analysis of publicly available images and data.

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