North Korea Demonstrates Extremely Long Range Rocket Artillery Capabilities With Large Salvo

The armed forces of North Korea, the Korean People’s Army, on May 30 launched a large salvo using over a dozen new KN-25 600mm rocket artillery systems, deploying both wheeled and tracked variants of the system in a significant show of force. State media outlets highlighted that the demonstration showed that the country was ready to carry out pre-emptive strikes on its adversaries, with 18 long range rockets fired. The KN-25 is by far the worlds longest ranged rocket artillery system in service anywhere in the world outside China, and has an engagement range of approximately 400km – longer than those of many ballistic missile types. Introduced from 2019, there have been multiple indications that the system has been produced on a very large scale, and has been deployed in both nuclear armed and conventionally armed variants. There has also been considerable speculation along Western sources that some variants could carry chemical weapons. The U.S. Congressional Research Service has reported that the system  “blurs the line between rocket and missile,” sporting “advanced avionics, inertial and satellite guidance systems, and aerodynamic structures.” 

Preceding the escalation of the Russian-Ukrainian War in February 2022 North Korea fielded the largest artillery and rocket artillery forces in the world, reflecting a long-standing strength of the country’s armed forces. Conventional artillery capabilities were notably prominently demonstrated in major live-fire drills on March 7. KN-25 systems deployed included both 6-cell and 4-cell variants, with variants using tracked launchers favoured for their ability to operate off road in the country’s mountainous and forested terrain, which makes them significantly more difficult to target. In parallel to acquisitions of KN-23 and KN-24 ballistic missile systems, the KN-25 has been at the core of efforts to modernise North Korea’s conventional strike capabilities since the end of the 2010s and played a significant role in transforming the balance of power on the Korean Peninsula. It has provided a relatively low cost asymmetric means of engaging targets across South Korea, including high priority targets such as U.S. military bases, enemy troop concentrations and bases hosting combat aircraft. Its development has complemented major advances in the modernisation of North Korea strike capabilities beyond the Korean Peninsula, including against Guam and the U.S. mainland

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