North Korea’s Longest Missile Test Yet

, former co-director | November 28, 2017, 3:32 pm EDT
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After more than two months without a missile launch, North Korea did a middle-of-the-night test (3:17 a.m. in Japan) today that appears to be its longest yet.

Reports are saying that the missile test was highly lofted and landed in the Sea of Japan some 960 km (600 miles) from the launch site. They are also saying the missile reached a maximum altitude of 4,500 km. This would mean that it flew for about 54 minutes, which is consistent with reports from Japan.

If these numbers are correct, then if flown on a standard trajectory rather than this lofted trajectory, this missile would have a range of more than 13,000 kilometers (km) (8,100 miles). This is significantly longer than North Korea’s previous long range tests, which flew on lofted trajectories for 37 minutes (July 4) and 47 minutes (July 28). Such a missile would have more than enough range to reach Washington, D.C., and in fact any part of the continental United States.

We do not know how heavy a payload this missile carried, but given the increase in range it seems likely that it carried a very light mock warhead. If true, that means it would be incapable of carrying a nuclear warhead to this long distance, since such a warhead would be much heavier.

Posted in: Missiles and Missile Defense Tags: , ,

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  • Julia Kristensen

    The sad truth is since the election of Donald Trump the problem appears to have escalated. So the regime of North Korea chooses to continue testing the range and appear to be succeeding. Perhaps we need much more dialogue with the nations closest to North Korea and for America to step back.Because I don’t think any of the tweets and the inadequacy of the State department appear to be working.It appears to be more deal breaking than making real and efffective changes.

    • Jesse Marioneaux

      I have said this too as well we laughed at them when those 3 tests failed you remember that. Now who is laughing now.

      • Julia Kristensen

        None of us are laughing for we wonder when a President consistently attempts to rewrite the truth and push out something else, why would we feel he can be contained by those who appear to be complicit in allowing truth to be altered as we have watched with dictators elsewhere in the world. We thought America was the bastion of honour and values. Not so under this President. He demonising whoever he thinks is his enemy and drags out past enemies, even though he won the Presidency. We honour the Presidency more than he does. So how can we expect any sort of strategy in a situation where he feels he is losing. What is he going to do, double down again to prove to himself he is what he thinks he is?

      • Julia Kristensen

        My Grandad was Jesse Martin Kristensen. He was an extraordinary man. I’d say you are too.
        Seventy Years, and the UN remains on the border, and I was thinking oddly of Albania earlier, as estranged from the world as North Korea, and I think the difference is who’s is neighbouring them, and I; though no American will recognise it; that a reality for the Chinese having an America presence is and continues to be an irritant and to which they will only ever play lip service when whatever President has been in power going back to the never signed off Korean War.
        How’s that for sheer cynicism?
        My concern is how they have been using the soft economic influence and so in Australia, the Pacific etc they are now down in Antarctic as are the Russians, just as Trump retreats to isolationism.
        I predict America will bomb the rail and ports to North Korea sometime next year, and North Korea will release a nasty biological horror on America and the world. I don’t think it will be nuclear so they will go for the back door killer. Look how Kim killed his brother.

    • Bill Smith2

      The Norks love it when we talk.. It buys them time for R&D..

      • fasdak jackl

        The US has nukes in submarines all over the globe. If anyone shouldn’t have them, it’s us.

      • Julia Kristensen

        Have you noted the support from the Russians?

    • TJ

      Nice deflect of responsibility Lib, but who was on watch while NK went unchecked allowing them to develop the capabilities. Trump is ringing the alarm bell, rightly so, that should have been rang long ago.

      • Cool

        Tough talk is cheap. TJ, what would you do to stop North Korea? There is no good answer. The little guy saw what we did in Iraq and what happened in Libya. I clearly understand the guy’s stance.

        • Yep, the framework agreement that had their nuclear program frozen, fell apart in 2002/2003 when W started a war on false pretenses and grouped NK in the “axis of evil.” First nuclear tests were three years later.

        • Strategic strikes against known or suspected testing and missile sites. Fairly simple.

          • Cool

            Jim, that’s pretty foolish. If we missed one spot where North Korea has a nuke stored, they could set it off near the DMZ and take out thousands of US troops and tens or hundreds of thousands of civilians.

            Talk is cheap until it runs up against reality.

            Maybe Trump could send all those guys he has looking for Obama’s real birth certificate to go look for all the North Korean nukes.

          • Maybe he could. Maybe he should. Maybe no one would be looking for a BC if BHO had requested the Hawaii Vital Records Office to allow inspection of the actual LONG FORM Certificate.

            In any event, you are right that we should be sensible to danger.

            Either the danger of a ICBM that now (according to today’s news) has the potential to reach anywhere in the world is real or isn’t.

            If the danger is real, then the mistake you fear MY administration would make can be avoided by a more thorough and devastating bombing attack.

          • Evangelical2

            Oh gawd dammit a Birther. Go back to your pedophile hole you cuckservatard.

          • One need not be a birther to ask the legitimate questions about Barry’s unwillingness to request the Hawai’i Vital Records folks to provide for public inspection of his LONG FORM Certificate. Or to ask why (except a wealth transfer payment to tony, high priced attorneys) pay 2-3 million in legal fees to avoid producing a document so simply and easily produced and which, when produced, results in complete vindication of native birth?

            Nor must one be a birther to ponder how the topic became relevant? Asking why Obama’s publicist thought to promote Obama’s first ghost-written book as being by a native Kenyan? Asking why the Hillary Clinton 2008 campaign “birthed” the birther arguments?

            Now, when you mention cuckservtard, then I am reminded of Barry’s limo trips around Chi-town with Larry Sinclair, who liked to blow Barry while Barry snorted coke!

      • Julia Kristensen

        The whole world and I include we of New Zealand for I am one, allowed North Korea to go down this route.
        Do you know the story of when our Winston Peters went to North Korea and negotiated safe passage for migratory birds.
        New kind of bird flying now.

    • So this is the doing of the man that didn’t provide the capacity to NK (that was Bill Clinton).
      So this is the doing of the men that didn’t act to prevent NK’s escalation of the program (those were GWBush and Barack Obama).
      So this is the doing of the man who has said we will not allow NK to develop and deploy ICBMs capable of striking us, our assets, or our allies.

      I follow your thinking, but it is specious.

      • Colin Kaminski

        I would attribute NK successes to the ground work laid by the CIA when they allowed Khan to distribute enrichment technology.

        • Evangelical2

          Nuclear Bombs are really easy to design, really hard to make. They are engineering marvels, not scientific marvels.

          You can make a nuclear bomb by enriching Uranium and bringing two sufficient amounts close to each other. Cavemen can do it.

  • Aaron Brown

    3:17am local time cannot be right. There is a tweets about the launch at 10:28am PST ( 10:28am PST is 2:58am North Korean time. I assume 3:17am is South Korean time, but that is not where the missile was fired from, so that is not local time. Probably should be 2:47am local time.

  • Henry Stone

    Is there any concern that it isn’t the absence of warheads making the ICBM weigh less/go further, but a possible indicator that miniaturization has been achieved and that this test accounted for that?

    • Schuitman Jeroen Laurens

      Not really, nukes can only be miniaturized till a certain point without comprimising its effectiveness. Realising a missile that is capable to reach long distances is the first step, after that the maximum load the missile can succesfully carry will be tested as the heavier the load, the shorter the range will be since the weight will effect the use of fuel.

      • Jeffrey Lewis and other open-source researchers have covered the topic. I believe they have crudely estimated a weight of the NK warhead recently shown and it isn’t that high (~450Kg?). They’re much lighter than the conventional warheads on shorter range ballistic missiles (5000kg). Article above doesn’t show their math. “1/3” term seems like a stretch unless their assuming a crude Little Boy or Fat Man. And they shouldn’t be.

        Burn time for this missile was longer. NK is giving it a new designation. No pictures yet, but it looks like an advance on the Hwasong-14 which could arguably already reach most of the US with a warhead.

        Some thoughts from a few yeas ago here:

        • Leonardo Della Pietra

          …”given the increase in range it seems likely that it carried a very light mock warhead.”

          A light payload was already supposed in previous missile launches in order to justify the ever increasing range.
          This latest test had a longer burn time which in itself could explain the longer range.
          David: Can you (or anybody) detail the hints and/or estimates which may legitimate your observation on the range increase?
          Thanks, Leo

        • Shonali rita

          lol…have been following jeffrey lewis nd others fr years…the
          estimates you r talking about they showed was based upon previous
          test…the latest one is totlly different nd some new sorce like
          national interest quoting vipin narang said the last test most likely
          carried mock warhead as same weight of a original nuke…i dont think
          noko doing this just to carry 450kg payload…specilly after h-bomb test
          the equation changed,,,

  • fasdak jackl

    I’d like to see the original reports. Who are these experts? Are they associated with ROK’s thoroughly discredited “intelligence” agency?

  • Peter Kirby

    Glass that damn place into a parking lot for worlds biggest mall.

  • postofficemike

    Maybe the Trump White House could announce to the whole fake news outlets that there is going to be a major announcement about his future as the Presidency and for all members of all the fake news outlets to be there for the scoop. In the meantime tell un Hung Lo that Trump is going to be there and that he DARES you to send a missile there!! Boom………..fake news problems solved!!!

  • keinz76

    “They are also saying the missile reached a maximum altitude of 4,500 km.”
    and then, from space, on the way to the moon, turned over it “landed in the Sea of Japan”
    say them to do homework first..

    • Geoff Cunningham

      Not sure what your problem with those numbers is? It’s completely feasible, and in fact if you launch at the right angle you can go up 4,500km and return to Earth at exactly the same spot. In all honesty it’s a completely reasonable way of testing a more powerful missile without freaking out the rest of the world too much by overflying even more countries.

      • Michael Angeli

        so, the missile travelled 9000km for 53 minutes? I am a little bit confused with the numbers. Someone to explain?

        • Geoff Cunningham

          Being a space flying missile rather than a craft which swims through the soup of our atmosphere, these seemingly crazy speeds are actually pretty normal. In fact, it’s super-slow compared to orbital speeds which are about 8km per SECOND, so would cover the 9000km in under 20 minutes. Once about 30km up, the density of the atmosphere really drops off.

          The 9000km is almost entirely up and down.

          In fact, this is one of the pieces of ICBM tech which we don’t think DPRK have mastered yet, which is re-entry shielding of a warhead to take the shock heating during reentry once it gets back in the soup.

  • Giant Catfish

    Don’t worry people. Donald Trump is on the case. He made a speech today, which will be followed up by powerful tweets tomorrow morning. Then there will be more tweets Thursday and Friday morning. Then he will head to Mara-Lago after a tiring week of tweets for some golf.

    • Honest answer, please: If Trump activated a military response to prevent NK from deploying nuclear-tipped ICBMs (say, a MOAB-blast at test sites, etc.), you would criticize him for doing so, right?

      • Giant Catfish

        Honest answer – No, I would not criticize him for that action. However, he has shown that all he is capable of doing is tweeting about everything and acting on nothing. He bragged about his great health care plan when he never had a plan. His plan was to let congress deal with it. But he, personally never had a plan. He never had a plan for N Korea. He’s all talk and no action, and his bluff has been called.

      • Evangelical2

        North Korea tested a Hydrogen bomb that is at least 12,000x MORE POWERFUL than a MOAB.

        Are you sure you want that flying at you or our allies? Can you imagine how much more powerful a nuclear bomb is than a MOAB?

        12,000x more powerful, can you even CONCEIVE of that?

        • I can. And I’d be fine with a glassine end to the NK debacle, so we can switch my proposal to a bevy of high power nukes.

          The idea behind the MOAB is massive destruction, including of nukes awaiting deployment, without the hazards and harms associated with nuclear detonation. But I can’t argue with your legitimate fear of Kim Dung Hill’s insanity.

  • Kepler

    I’m confused with the maximal range calculation. This seems to consider the missile as a cannonball, there should be quite a difference if you take into account its propulsion before it goes balistic, no?

  • a human

    Hope there be peace all around by not eliminating civilization. God have mercy on us.

  • JK

    How does this affect your earlier calculation comparing re-entry speeds? (

    Since the initial and final velocity would be a square root function of the lofted altitude, this would make its re-entry speed 2.5 times faster than the re-entry from the the 700km test, making the heat transfer rate at least an order of magnitude higher. So it would seem that this would be a more severe test of the RV than even normal ICBM trajectory, so maybe we shouldn’t be reading too much into the fact that the RV broke up?