North Korea Develops New Shells for Multiple Rocket Launcher System

SEOUL — North Korea announced on Monday the development of new controllable shells for its multiple rocket launcher systems, alongside advancements in ballistic control technology, as part of its ongoing efforts to enhance its military capabilities.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the Academy of Defence Science conducted test firings of 240 mm-caliber controllable multiple rocket launcher shells on Sunday to assess their accuracy and demonstrate their benefits. The KCNA stated that these developments would lead to a qualitative transformation in the operational effectiveness of the country's multiple rocket launcher units.

The introduction of the 240 mm-caliber controllable shells and their ballistic control system is expected to reevaluate the strategic significance and battlefield utility of the 240 mm-caliber rocket launcher. This comes as North Korea seeks to augment the impact of such weaponry in military engagements. The South Korean military observed the launch of these multiple rocket launcher systems toward the Yellow Sea from near Nampho, although this information was not publicly disclosed due to policies limiting announcements to ballistic missile tests or significant weapons developments.

This test represents a potential enhancement of North Korea's 240 mm multiple rocket launcher system, which is strategically positioned close to the border with South Korea, targeting the wider area around the South's capital. The event follows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's inspection of munitions factories in August, where he highlighted the importance of controlling 122 mm and 240 mm multiple rocket launcher shells as a major advancement.

The test of the "controllable" 240 mm shells indicates possible improvements in the system's range and accuracy, reflecting North Korea's ambition to strengthen its weapons capabilities. In a related development, Kim Jong-un previously described a new 600-mm super-large rocket launcher as an offensive tool capable of carrying tactical nuclear warheads to cover all of South Korea.

Recent weapons tests, including the firing of cruise missiles and artillery into waters near the inter-Korean western sea border, have escalated tensions on the Korean Peninsula. These developments also occur amidst growing military collaboration between North Korea and Russia, with speculations about the new shells being potentially exported to Russia. Hong Min, a senior research fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification, suggested that the 240 mm multiple rocket launcher shell could serve dual purposes: practical application through potential exports to Russia and political leverage over South Korea. This move comes as Pyongyang faces accusations from Washington and its allies of supplying arms to Moscow for its conflict in Ukraine.

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