By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL, April 14 (Reuters) – North Korea says it has tested a new strong-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), its initial identified use of the propellant in a longer-variety projectile, as it seeks the capability to launch with tiny preparation.

Right here are some traits of strong-fuel technologies, and how it can support the North increase its missile systems.

WHAT IS Strong-FUEL Technologies?

Strong propellants are a mixture of fuel and oxidiser. Metallic powders such as aluminium usually serve as the fuel, and ammonium perchlorate, which is the salt of perchloric acid and ammonia, is the most frequent oxidiser.

The fuel and oxidiser are bound with each other by a difficult rubbery material and packed into a metal casing.

When strong propellant burns, oxygen from the ammonium perchlorate combines with aluminium to create huge amounts of power and temperatures of far more than five,000 degrees Fahrenheit (two,760 degrees Celsius), producing thrust and lifting the missile from the launch pad.

WHO HAS THAT Technologies?

Strong fuel dates back to fireworks created by the Chinese centuries ago, but created dramatic progress in the mid-20th century, when the U.S. created far more effective propellants.

The Soviet Union fielded its initial strong-fuel ICBM, the RT-two, in the early 1970s, followed by France’s improvement of its S3, also identified as SSBS, a medium-variety ballistic missile.

China began testing strong-fuel ICBMs in the late 1990s.

South Korea mentioned on Friday it had currently secured “effective and sophisticated” strong-propellant ballistic missile technologies.


Liquid propellants supply higher propulsive thrust and energy, but call for far more complicated technologies and further weight.

Strong fuel is dense and burns fairly rapidly, creating thrust more than a brief time. Strong fuel can stay in storage for an extended period with no degrading or breaking down – a frequent problem with liquid fuel.

Vann Van Diepen, a former U.S. government weapons specialist who now functions with the 38 North project, mentioned strong-fuel missiles are less complicated and safer to operate, and call for significantly less logistical assistance, generating them tougher to detect and far more survivable than liquid-fuel weapons.

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Ankit Panda, a senior fellow at the U.S.-primarily based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, mentioned any nation that operates big scale, missile-primarily based nuclear forces would seek strong-propellant missiles, which do not need to have to be fuelled straight away ahead of launch.

“These capabilities are significantly far more responsive in a time of crisis,” Panda mentioned.

WHAT Subsequent?

North Korea mentioned the improvement of its new strong-fuel ICBM, the Hwasong-18, would “radically market” its nuclear counterattack capability.

South Korea’s defence ministry sought to downplay the testing, saying the North would need to have “further time and work” to master the technologies.

Panda mentioned the North could face issues guaranteeing such a big missile does not break apart when the diameter of the booster becomes bigger.

Despite the fact that the Hwasong-18 may possibly not be a “game changer”, he mentioned, it will most probably complicate the calculations of the United States and its allies throughout a conflict.

“The most critical interest the United States and its allies have is to lessen the dangers of nuclear use and escalation stemming from North Korea’s possession of these weapons,” Panda mentioned.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin Further reporting by Ju-min Park Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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