Article Claims that F-35 May Help With Intercepting North Korea’s ICBMs

Here is yet another good idea fairy in regards to defeating North Korea’s ICBMs:

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., raised more than a few eyebrows (and drew a few rolled eyes) when he suggested in November that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter could intercept North Korean missiles headed for the United States. Hunter cited analysis from Los Alamos National Labs and other sources, according to Inside Defense.

Turns out the F-35 may be an ICBM buster after all, or at least be helpful toward that end. On Tuesday, Northrop Grumman called a small group of journalists to its offices in Linthicum, Maryland, to show the results of a 2014 experiment conducted with the Missile Defense Agency, or MDA.

The U.S. has no foolproof way to down a North Korean ICBM. Physics says the best opportunity comes during “boost phase,” as the rocket is leaving the launch pad. But DPRK anti-aircraft defenses make it difficult for the U.S. to get a weapon close enough to do any good. That’s why the Pentagon is looking at elaborate, futuristic concepts like arming drones with missile-killing lasers.

But the F-35 is studded with sensors like no other aircraft, including the Distributed Aperture System, or DAS, a half-dozen 17-pound electro-optical and infrared sensors. These feed a helmet-mounted display that allows the pilot to effectively “see through the plane” and spot incoming aircraft and missiles.

In October 2014, Northrop and MDA launched FTX-20, an experiment to see, among other things, whether the DAS could track an enemy ICBM. They took data from the sensors, ran it through algorithms developed by Northrop and MDA’s Enterprise Sensor Lab, generated a 3D-moving picture of the missile’s trajectory, and conveyed it over the Link 16 tactical data exchange. This kind of targeting data can help cue the U.S.Navy’s anti-ballistic missile destroyers or short- and intermediate-range missile defenses like the Army’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, missile battery deployed in South Korea.  [Defense One]

You can read the rest at the link, but feeding data to Patriot, Aegis, and THAAD systems will not defeat North Korea’s ICBMs.  These systems are not designed to intercept ICBMs, the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system is.  That is why people who understand missile defense would have rolled their eyes at Rep. Hunter’s claim.

Additionally even the feeding of data to these systems to help with cueing the sensors to North Korean launches is of little value considering the US already has two AN/TPY-2 radar sites in Japan that provide much better cueing data.  This all adds up to limited value of the capability the F-35 provides in regards to North Korea launches.

Picture of the Day: North Koreans Dance In Celebration of ICBM Test

N. Koreans celebrate missile test

North Koreans dance on the streets of Pyongyang on Nov. 30, 2017, in this photo in celebration of their country’s claimed successful test of a new type of an intercontinental ballistic missile. The North’s Korean Central News Agency, which released this photo, said servicepersons and civilians celebrated the test conducted a day earlier, assessed by the outside world as showing advances in the country’s missile technology.  (Yonhap)

North Korea’s New ICBM May Not Have Enough Power To Deliver a Nuclear Payload to the US

Here is an interesting read from the Associated Press about what experts are saying about North Korea’s new ICBM:

This Nov. 29, 2017, image provided by the North Korean government on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, third from left, and what the North Korean government calls the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile, in North Korea. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

North Korea released dozens of photos Thursday of the Hwasong-15, a new intercontinental ballistic missile it claims can reach any target in the continental United States. The photo dump, published in the paper and online editions of the ruling party’s official daily, is a goldmine for rocket experts trying to parse reality from bluster.

Their general conclusion is that it’s bigger, more advanced and comes with a domestically made mobile launcher that will make it harder than ever to pre-emptively destroy. But there’s a potentially major catch: it might not have the power to go much farther than the West Coast if it is loaded down with a real nuclear warhead, not a dummy like the one it carried in its test launch on Wednesday.  [Associated Press]

You can read more at the link, but experts are skeptical that the North Koreans have miniaturized their nuclear warhead to a low enough weight to where this ICBM can deliver it to the US West Coast.

North Korea Claims After November 28th ICBM Launch that It Can Range Anywhere in the US

It looks like all areas of the continental United States are now at risk of being a target of a North Korean ICBM:

North Korea launched an apparent new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) early Wednesday that reached an altitude of about 4,500 kilometers and traveled 960 kilometers before falling into the East Sea inside Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

The missile launch, which broke a 75-day lull in the North’s provocations, drew strong condemnation from South Korea as well as the international community.  (……)

“The ICBM Hwasong-15 type weaponry system is an intercontinental ballistic rocket tipped with super-large heavy warhead which is capable of striking the entire mainland of the U.S. ,” the statement said.

It added the new system has much greater advantages in its tactical and technological characteristics than the Hwasong-14 missile tested in July.

The repressive state launched Hwasong-14s twice, July 4 and 28. The first one flew 933 kilometers in 39 minutes and reached an altitude of 2,802 kilometers, while the second one flew 998 kilometers in 47 minutes after reaching an altitude of 3,724 kilometers.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but experts report this ICBM if fired at a nominal trajectory could range 13,000 kilometers.  That would put all areas of the continental United States within range.

Here is how the Blue House responded to the launch:

Soon after the test, President Moon Jae-in presided over a National Security Council meeting at Cheong Wa Dae, during which he strongly denounced the North for its “military brinkmanship.”

“North Korea must stop making reckless choices that will only lead to its isolation and collapse,” Moon said, urging the Kim regime to come to the negotiation table.

“The government will never sit back and watch these provocations,” he said.

The Chinese have issued their usual statement about how concerned they are after the launch:

China voiced its strong objection and concerns over North Korea’s latest missile test Wednesday, joining South Korea, the United States and Japan in denouncing the North’s first weapons test in nearly 11 weeks.

“China expresses its grave concerns about and opposition to North Korea’s missile launch activities,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a press briefing.

Referring to the U.N.’s ban on North Korea’s ballistic missile activity, the spokesman said, “There are clear regulations on North Korean ballistic missile launches in United Nations Security Council resolutions.”

He also said, “China wants North Korea to stop any action that escalates tension on the Korean Peninsula.” He called on “other concerned countries” to act cautiously and maintain peace and security in the regional community.  [Yonhap]

At this point I wonder if the ROK and the Chinese just change the date on their press releases after North Korean provocations because the statements are similar after every incident.

North Korea Says It Does Not Have Plans to Nuke Europe

The fact that Europe is within ICBM range means that any NATO country that to comes to the aid of South Korea during a crisis puts them at risk of nuclear retaliation.  Will any NATO countries risk nuclear retaliation to help the ROK?:

North Korea responded Wednesday to European concerns about being in the path of Pyongyang’s potentially nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) by assuring the leader of Western military alliance NATO that such weapons were only intended for the U.S.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said during an interview last week with Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun that “Europe has also entered the [North Korean] missile range, and NATO member states are already in danger.” North Korea’s ruling party-run Rodong Shinmun newspaper countered these claims, calling Stoltenberg’s remarks “false and groundless” because, although European states are indeed in North Korea’s missile range, Pyongyang has no intention of pulling the trigger.

“The DPRK’s ballistic rockets are for deterring the U.S. nuclear war hysterics and ensuring peace and security on the Korean peninsula and the region. They are not for threatening Europe and the world,” the commentary read, according to the official Korea Central News Agency, referring to the country’s official title: The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  [Newsweek]

You can read more at the link, but this is just another example of how their nuclear and ICBM programs are about more than regime survival.  They also are being developed to isolate the ROK from its allies and ultimately separate the ROK from the US.

60 Minutes Investigates North Korea’s Missile Program

This is not surprising to people who have been following this issue, but stopping the foreign parts supply to North Korea is hopefully a major effort being taken by the US government:

Debris from a 2016 North Korean rocket launch

So far this year, North Korea has conducted 16 test launches of missiles, virtually each one personally approved by the country’s young dictator, Kim Jong-un. With every test, North Korea takes a step toward its ultimate goal: an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the United states with a thermonuclear warhead.

This week on 60 Minutes, correspondent David Martin and producer Mary Walsh report just how close the North Koreans are to that goal — and how they get their hands on the parts to do it.

Martin and Walsh interviewed Hugh Griffiths, head of the team that monitors the North Korean missile program and their compliance with sanctions for the U.N. Security Council. During the interview, Griffiths showed the 60 Minutes team a series of stunning photos of rocket debris, which revealed the the inner workings of a North Korean missile.

“What makes this rocket fly was in those photos,” Walsh tells 60 Minutes Overtime in the video above. “And that’s what made them so valuable to the U.N. inspectors, but also to 60 Minutes.”

The recovery of North Korean rocket debris is highly unusual, says Griffiths. In February 2016, North Korea launched a satellite into orbit, and while the satellite wasn’t very serious, the rocket that launched it was. “I think most people around the world agree, the point of this test was not to put a satellite into orbit,” Martin says. “The point of this test was to try out technologies for an intercontinental ballistic missile.”

Before launch, North Korea filed a Notice to Airmen and Mariners, warning them that debris may fall from the sky in a designated area. The South Koreans, in turn, knew exactly where to go in an attempt to recover the debris for intelligence purposes.

To block the South Koreans from collecting their debris, the North Koreans rigged the rocket with explosives that were supposed to detonate after boosting the satellite into orbit, Griffiths says. The rocket was meant to self-destruct, rendering its parts unrecognizable. But that system failed, says Griffiths, leaving the South Koreans with a debris field to collect and analyze.

“This was a gold mine,” correspondent David Martin says. “You just get this in-depth, excruciatingly detailed understanding of how these missiles work.”  [60 Minutes]

You can read more at the link, but considering the North Koreans may be planning to launch another ICBM disguised as a space launch it will be interesting to see if they put out a notice beforehand again?  Considering the intelligence value the ROK received from the recovered debris from the last launch it will be interesting to see what the regime decides to do.

Is an ICBM Test Disguised as a Space Launch North Korea’s Next Provocation?

Is an ICBM Test Disguised as a Space Launch North Korea’s Next Provocation?

Could this be North Korea’s next provocation?:

This photo, released by the North’s Korean Central TV Broadcasting Station on Feb. 7, 2016, shows North Korea’s “Kwangmyongsong-4” satellite being fired from the Dongchang-ri launch site in Cholsan, North Pyongan Province. The North launched the rocket in a move widely viewed as a disguised ballistic missile test in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions. (Yonhap)

North Korea said Monday it will launch more satellites as any sovereign country has the right to develop a space program amid speculation that it is preparing more provocative acts.

North Korea will place into space more satellites, including a stationary one, in accordance with its five-year space development program as it seeks to improve its economy and people’s livelihood, according to the Rodong Sinmun, the main newspaper.

“Some countries have manipulated U.N. sanctions resolutions against us and hindered the sovereign country’s space development. It is not a tolerable act,” the newspaper said. “It is a global trend that a country seeks the economic growth with the space program.”  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but the last time North Korea did a space launch they announced it and invited foreign journalists to the launch site. It will be interesting to see if they try and take this same approach to fire their next rocket.

American and Russian Analysts Expect North Korea to Test ICBM Soon

I found it interesting in the below article how the North Koreans have pretty much told the Russians they plan to conduct a ICBM test in the near term.  If so it will be additionally interesting to see what trajectory they use to test its full capability because if it lands too close to Hawaii or Alaska it could give the Trump administration the excuse it needs to conduct an attack to destroy their nuclear and missile programs:

The next rocket launch by North Korea could be another Hwasong-12 (HS-12), which is a mobile, solid-fueled, nuclear-capable medium-range ballistic missile, or the Hwasong-14 (HS-14), first tested in July, which is believed to be a two-staged version of the HS-12, giving it a longer and intercontinental range.

“I think they are not done with testing the HS-12 into the Pacific. They also have yet to start testing the HS-14 at anything like its full range,” said Joshua Pollack, a senior research associate with the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

“Once they have done that a couple of times, I would be concerned about the potential for an atmospheric nuclear test over the Pacific,” Pollack, also editor of the Nonproliferation Review, told VOA.

Russian media on Friday quoted a lawmaker in Moscow as saying North Korea is preparing to test a long-range missile able to reach the West Coast of the United States.

The comment was made by Anton Morozov, a member of the Russian Duma’s international affairs committee, who was among lawmakers who returned home Friday after a four-day visit to Pyongyang for “high-level meetings.”

“They are preparing for new tests of a long-range missile. They even gave us mathematical calculations that they believe prove that their missile can hit the West Coast of the United States,” Russian media quoted Morozov, a member of a right-wing populist party, as saying.

“As far as we understand, they intend to launch one more long-range missile in the near future,” Morozov explained. “And in general, their mood is rather belligerent.”  [VOA News]

You can read more at the link.