North Korea has launched a ballistic missile on a very high altitude flight on 28 November (29 November North Korean time). While previous flights have proven North Korea’s ability to hit US cities on its Western seaboard, North Korea claims that this flight proves that it can now hit ANY city with the USA. The Hwason-15 missile flew to a claimed altitude of 4,475 km (2,780 miles), travelling a distance of 960 km before landing back in the Sea of Japan, about 250 km away from Japan’s Northern coast.
Independent analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists concurs with the range claimed for the missile but points out that with a heavy warhead, the range would be cut somewhat. Most nations now agree that North Korea has to desist from its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programmes and there was a protest at this test flight at the US. Even China, long time supporter of the DPRK (Democatic People’s Republic of Korea) noted its “grave concern” at the flight.
While satellite tracking would make North Korea’s land launched ballistic missile and their launch pads (even mobile ones) vulnerable to air and missile attack, North Korea is known to be working on submarines able to launch submarine launched ballistic missiles. Submarines are much less vulnerable due to their stealthy nature. Worst, by launching closer to their target, they can considerably reduce flight times.
One missile and has even test flown one from a conning tower mounted launch tube from under the ocean. Satellite imagery has suggested that a new North Korean submarine is being built at North Korea’s Sinpo shipyard which has a back casing mounted bank of missile tubes that submarine launch ballistic missiles are more normally launched from.