Another North Korean test of the BM-25 Musudan IRBM has failed. The test took place at 5:20 am Korean time and was the fourth failed test of a Musudan missile. Three previous tests were already attempted this year.
The test comes just weeks after a the regime began a peace offensive, likely as a result of heavy sanctions placed it from previous nuclear and missile tests. North Korea had moderated it’s nuclear rhetoric and proposed peace talks. However, many world leaders, including President Obama, viewed the offers of negotiations as a ploy and rejected them outright, as did South Korea. With this test North Korea appears to be shifting back to more aggressive tactics.
From a technical standpoint,this fourth failed test indicates major problems with the Musudan. It is becoming apparent is that the North Koreans lack the expertise to properly replicate the original Soviet missile. The BM-25 is a much more advanced missile than the Scud based missiles that North Korea has been using since the 1980s.
The Musudan uses complex manufacturing process that involves etching an isogrid into the missile’s lightweight aluminum body with chemicals instead of using wielded or riveted steel ribs to strengthen it. The missiles also uses a higher performance fuel, a high efficiency submerged** main engine and vernier engines for steering. This means the missile is lighter, more efficient, and can achieve greater ranges with higher payloads.The catch is that it is also harder to manufacture.
As I have stated before, this failure also effects the DPRK’s other potential missiles. The Musudan’s engine is based on the Russian R-27 SLBM, which is also suspected to be the basis of North Korea’s new KN-08 road mobile ICBM. Without functioning engines the feasibility of a successful KN-08 is in serious doubt.
*This article refers to the May 30th 2016 test. I’ve had to start dating them for clarity.
**I means the engine is built into the fuel tank to save weight and space.