Briefing on North Korea's 11/12 September Missile Launches

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) claims to have conducted test launches of a “new type long-range cruise missile” on 11 and 12 September 2021. According to DPRK State media, the missiles flew 1,500 km before hitting their targets. This is the first known missile test launch since 25 March 2021 when the DPRK launched two short range ballistic missiles. Based on publicly released information, this briefing offers a preliminary analysis of this new type of cruise missile.

Key Findings

After decades of operating and developing shorter-range subsonic cruise missiles, and with the proliferation of technologies and commercialization of subsystems, it is possible that the DPRK has become capable of developing a cruise missile with a range in excess of 1,000 km.

Available information is insufficient to determine how sophisticated the DPRK’s new long-range cruise missile is. Such a missile is possibly dedicated to attack stationary targets and might be nuclear capable.

This new long-range cruise missile, once deployed, would enhance the DPRK’s regional strategic strike capabilities. A combination of ballistic and cruise missiles would pose a greater challenge to the air and missile defence of the US, the ROK and Japan.