North Korea fires ‘ballistic missile’ into the sea days after ‘short range weapon test’ – World News

North Korea has fired a ‘ballistic missile’ into the sea, Japan’s defence ministry said, days after the secretive state completed a short-range missile test.

The military in neighbouring South Korea reported an “unidentified projectile” had been fired off the peninsula’s east coast into the sea on Thursday.

North Korea’s ballistic missiles are banned under UN Security Council Resolutions, and if the launch is confirmed, it would represent the first ballistic-missile test launch under new U.S. President Joe Biden.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff did not identify or elaborate on what the projectile was or when it was launched.

It may have been a ballistic missile, a spokesman for Japan’s defence ministry said.

Ballistic missiles are banned in North Korea under UN resolutions

He said: “It has not fallen within Japanese territory and is not believed to have come down within Japan’s exclusive economic zone.”

Earlier the Japanese coast guard warned ships against coming close to any fallen objects and instead asked them to provide information to the coast guard.

Yonhap News Agency reports that South Korean has convened an emergency National Security Council meeting on the launches.

It comes after North Korea fired two short-range missiles at the weekend, U.S. and South Korean officials said.

But the US played down the first such tests under Joe Biden and said it was still open to dialogue with Pyongyang.

People watch a television news broadcast showing a file image of a North Korean missile test
The North Korean missile test took place at the weekend

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) attends ground-breaking ceremony of a construction project for building 10000 apartments in Pyongyang
The secretive state is in a deadlock with the US over its missile tests

North Korea said it would not engage until the US dropped its ‘hostile policies’, including carrying out military drills with South Korea.

The country has not tested a intercontinental ballistic missile in more than three years, but has continued production of nuclear weapons.

News of the launches comes a week after Kim Yo Jong, sister of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, sent a warning to Joe Biden.

“We take this opportunity to warn the new US administration trying hard to give off powder smell in our land,” she said, the North Korean state news agency reports.

“If it wants to sleep in peace for [the] coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step.”

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Iran opens new underground missile facility, says state TV

Tehran: Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard on Monday (Tuesday AEDT) inaugurated a new underground facility designated for missile storage, the country’s state TV reported.

The report quotes Guard commander General Hossein Salami as saying that cruise and ballistic missiles will empower the force’s navy even more.

Missiles are shown in an underground storage facility in an undisclosed location, Iran.Credit:AP

The TV report showed footage of scores of missiles in an enclosed space resembling an underground corridor. It did not say where the facility is located nor how many missiles are stored there.

Since 2011, Iran has boasted of underground facilities across the country as well as along the southern coast near the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

Iran claims to have missiles that can travel 2000 kilometres, placing much of the Middle East, including Israel, within range.

The US and its Western allies see Iran’s missile program as a threat, along with the country’s nuclear program — particularly after Tehran gradually breached its commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, following the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the deal in 2018.

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard on Monday inaugurated a new underground facility designated for missile storage.

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard on Monday inaugurated a new underground facility designated for missile storage. Credit:AP

Last July, the Guard launched underground ballistic missiles as part of an exercise involving a mock-up American aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz, highlighting its network of subterranean missile sites.

Since Iran’s bloody 1980s war with Iraq, which saw both nations fire missiles on cities, Iran has developed its ballistic missile program as a deterrent, especially as a UN arms embargo prevents it from buying high-tech weapons systems.

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Newly Released Drone Footage Shows Iranian Missile Attack on US Forces

Newly released drone footage shows Iranian ballistic missiles raining down on a base in Iraq where US forces were sheltering on January 8, 2020. The attack was conducted in retaliation for the January 3 assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Iraq by US forces. Though no US personnel were killed in the barrage, over 100 suffered brain injuries from the force of explosions. Iran mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian airliner leaving Tehran hours later. This footage was released by CENTCOM, the US military command that oversees operations in the region. Credit: CENTCOM via Storyful

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Juniper Falcon ’21: Where Missile Defense Meets Remote Warfighting

The U.S. military and the Israeli Defense Forces are building their partnership through a large-scale missile defense exercise, dubbed Juniper Falcon, that will take place throughout February.

Juniper Falcon ’21 is focused on ballistic missile defense and crisis response and is taking place in various locations in both Israel and Germany.

Historically, Juniper Falcon had included a variety of different training events. But this year, because of the Coronavirus pandemic, the exercise had to focus on more remote warfighting rather than large formations of troops.

Juniper Falcon has three primary aims. First, to strengthen cooperation and coordination between the U.S. military and the Israeli Defense Forces. Second, to promote mutual learning for both militaries. And finally, to improve the interoperability of the two militaries and their ability to defend against a wide range of threats.

“The Juniper Falcon exercise series serves as an opportunity for U.S. military personnel and the IDF to exercise together and to learn from one another. JF21 represents another step in the deliberate and strategic relationship between the U.S. and Israel and contributes to overall regional stability,” EUCOM said in a statement.

This isn’t the first time the U.S. military and the Israeli Defense Forces have practiced missile defense. A few years ago, more than 3,000 U.S. troops participated in an exercise that simulated a massive missile attack on Israel.

The US and Israel share a close missile defense relationship, with both sharing intelligence and capabilities. For example, recently, the US Army received the Israeli-made Iron Dome ballistic defense system.

“The exercise simulates different scenarios in which Israel finds itself under threat of attack by ballistic missiles and other aerial threats. It is meant to strengthen cooperation, coordination and mutual learning between the two militaries, to improve their readiness to jointly defend against various threats and to expand and preserve the deep strategic cooperation between the militaries and countries,” the Israeli Defense Forces said in a statement.

Although Israel will be moved under the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility, the timeline for that move is still unclear as the new administration will have to approve it.

It will be interesting to see if the Israeli Defense Forces will continue to participate in EUCOM-held exercises even after Israel is officially moved under CENTCOM given the deep relationship between EUCOM and Israel and also the institutional memory that already exists.

This article was first published by Sandboxx.

Image: Reuters

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Chan Han Choi denies brokering missile deals with North Korea, had links to Kim Jong-un, Sydney court told

A man accused of brokering deals for North Korea, including missiles, has alleged he had connections to the country’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, a Sydney court has heard.

Chan Han Choi has pleaded not guilty to seven charges, including contravening United Nations sanctions and providing services to assist a weapons of mass destruction program.

The 62-year-old was born in South Korea, arrived in Australia in 1987 and became a citizen in 2000, the NSW Supreme Court heard today.

For about four months before his arrest in the Sydney suburb of Eastwood in December 2017, he was allegedly involved in brokering five transactions, including for coal, petrol and missiles.

The alleged transactions were both from and to North Korea.

Crown Prosecutor Jennifer Single SC told jurors there would be no eye witnesses, but rather the case would rely on documents, emails, intercepted phone calls and experts.

Ms Single foreshadowed evidence of Mr Choi alleging “connections” to Kim Jong-un.

“The accused has travelled to North Korea on at least seven occasions,” Ms Single said.

Despite his South Korean origin, Mr Choi had “extensive connections” to the country, she said.

“He has had a North Korean bank account … he regularly communicates with people who, on the Crown case, are from North Korea.”

Ms Single told jurors none of the alleged transactions were successful, but the fact that Mr Choi had “pulled the plug” before they succeeded was not relevant.

“That does not matter, on the Crown’s case,” she said.

“What is important is the accused’s role in terms of those transactions and whether you are satisfied, beyond reasonable doubt, that he was involved in brokering those transactions.”

The court heard there will be references in communication to “pine trees” and “the nursery” which the Crown alleges were coded language for missile technologies.

Defence barrister Robert Webb said his client held himself out to be a civil engineer but his communications amounted to nothing more than “just talk and hot air”.

He urged the jury to approach the case with an open mind and said some key matters that were in dispute included the question of intent.

“As the burden of proof is on the Crown, really the question is not ‘what on earth was he doing or trying to do’, but rather ‘did he intend to provide the prohibited or sanctioned services’,” Mr Webb said.

The trial, before Justice Christine Adamson, continues.

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France’s MMP Anti-Tank Missile Is Any Army’s Nightmare

At the end of the Cold War, the MILAN anti-tank missile used by the United Kingdom, France, and Germany was nearing obsolescence. While the UK and Germany replaced the MILAN with non-European missiles, opting for the American Javelin and Israeli Spike-LR, respectively, France decided to develop their own missile, the Missile Moyenne Portée (MMP).

While the process of developing a new missile made it take longer than the British and German replacements, the missile has some advanced features that the Spike and Javelin lack. But were these features worth the wait? Is the MMP really better than its competition? Could it be an export success?

Functionally, the MMP is closer to the Spike-LR than the Javelin. Like the Spike-LR, it has man-in-the-loop guidance enabled by a fiber optic link. However, it incorporates advanced features into the firing post that current versions that the Spike lack. Notably, the firing post is set up for net-centric warfare and even can fire remotely without a soldier directly operating it.

The net-centric warfare capabilities mostly revolve around the ability to use the NLOS capability of the MMP to hit targets behind cover. As with the Spike-LR, the MMP’s firing post can see what the missile seeker sees. The firing post has a GPS and compass so that it can determine the azimuth it would need to face relative to a grid and cue the gunner in.

But in addition to the seeker feed, before firing, the firing post can receive video links from other sources, including UAVs. This can give the gunner a better idea of where to steer the missile after the initial launch and lead to better accuracy.

Seeker wise, the MMP is similar to the Spike in that it features a dual CCD/IIR seeker, however, both sensors are not used at once. The mode that’s desired is selected before launch. This allows each seeker to have a wider field of view, making tracking moving targets easier.

In actual killing ability, the MMP brings some innovations versus its competitors. Like the Russian Kornet, the MMP places its rocket engine between the precursor warhead (the first one to strike armor) and the main warhead to increase the standoff distance and penetration.

It also has multiple fuzing modes, allowing it to perform limited building destruction and anti-personnel duty, although dedicated HE-FRAG and thermobaric ATGMs would be superior for that.

Interesting, the MMP also has some additional features like the ability to lock and fire the missile remotely. Such capability was present on some Soviet ATGMs like the Malyutka (albeit at a short range). This could significantly improve the survivability of an MMP team in urban combat, as the guidance team could be in a different room from the launch post in case it takes return fire.

Overall, the MMP’s long developmental cycle probably resulted in one of the best designed anti-tank missile systems concerning capability. The team was able to observe foreign developments and look at the pros and cons of other ATGMs which reached production earlier.

The missile has clear influences from around the globe. The primary guidance method and fiber-optic link came from the Spike. The warhead design came from the Kornet. It also is rather forward-facing, incorporating net-centric warfare despite the lack of other platforms in the French Army that interface with a battlefield network.

Despite its features, the MMP’s late entry onto the market will probably make it difficult for it to find sales. Cost of the missile is rather high, due to it only being recently adopted by its only user, the French Army.

Other militaries have already adopted Spike, which provides a largely similar capability. Rafael is also continually updating the Spike, incorporating seeker improvements of its own, and adding net-centric warfare capability. Nations are likely to buy these firing post upgrades rather than convert wholly over to MMP.

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The MMP’s late development cycle has been a blessing and curse to it. It’s gotten the best of many features, but it’s arrived late to a mostly saturated market. However, it may find a place in supplementing or replacing Javelin systems.

Nations that rely solely on Javelin for infantry anti-tank might find themselves in need of a longer-ranged system, which the MMP can provide. Finally, since the MMP was developed off the back of French operational use of the Javelin, it addresses many issues France had with it, such as the lack of “man-in-the-loop” control.

Charlie Gao studied Political and Computer Science at Grinnell College and is a frequent commentator on defense and national security issues. This article first appeared in 2018.

Image: Reuters.

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Footage From Deadly Yemen Airport Attack Allegedly Shows Missile Exploding on Tarmac

Middle East

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At least 22 people were killed and over 50 others injured in Wednesday’s attack on Aden Airport. Moammar Al-Eryani, information minister in the new Saudi-backed government, blamed the attack on the Houthi militia. The group has yet to issue any formal statements on the matter.

The first footage of the attack on Aden Airport has appeared online. The footage, which has yet to be independently verified, shows a missile impacting the tarmac, creating a fireball that nearly consumes a stationary vehicle nearby.

The footage also shows billowing smoke from a nearby terminal building and the apparent sound of gunfire as government and military officials, journalists and observers duck for cover or get into vehicles to try to escape the scene.

At least 22 people were killed and dozens more injured in the wake of Wednesday’s attack on the Aden Airport. A source told Sputnik that none of the members of the new cabinet were hurt. The ministers are said to have been transferred to safety to the Maasheeq presidential palace.

The new government’s information minister blamed the attack on the Houthis, the militia group which has been in control of much of the country, including the capital of Sanaa, for over six years, and which has withstood a five-year long military campaign by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched in March of 2015.

The new cabinet arrived in Aden following a formal inauguration ceremony in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday, after a power-sharing deal had been reached between the government of Saudi-based exile president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the Southern Transitional Council (STC), a separatist government in control of much of the country’s south. Receiving support from the United Arab Emirates, the STC was formed in 2017, two years after Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States began their intervention in the Yemen conflict.

The Houthis have not claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s airport attack. However, the group has previously launched dozens of missile and drone attacks against Hadi loyalists, the STC and Saudi Arabia proper, hitting military facilities, airports, ports, and other infrastructure. In September 2019, the group took responsibility for a major attack on a pair of Saudi oil processing facilities which temporarily halved the Kingdom’s oil production.

The war in Yemen has devastated the already impoverished nation, with over 233,000 people killed, both in the fighting and as a result of a humanitarian crisis. The United Nations estimates that up to 22 million people, or three quarters of the country’s population, are in dire need of humanitarian assistance, including urgent food aid.

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These New Chinese Missile Boats are Shaking up the South China Sea

Here’s What You Need to Remember: A Chinese military analyst quoted in the paper said the Type 022 stealth missile boats were now being developed for more of a deep or “blue-water” attack mission scope in addition to being intended for coastal patrol. Using speed and increasingly long-range anti-ship missiles, swarms of Type 022 boats could seek to overwhelm enemy surface ships and jam defensive systems, or simply attack from so many different angles at once the ship commanders have insufficient opportunities to mount effective defenses. 

Armed with surface-to-air missiles, 30mm guns and even anti-ship missiles, a group of Chinese Type 022 stealth missile boats fired weapons, conducted combat operations and moved in a deliberately threatening way in the South China Sea and near the coast of Taiwan. 

A flotilla of the boats (fast-attack craft that have been in existence since 2004) are trained in “comprehensive attack and defense, air defense and anti-terrorism,” according to a story in the Chinese-government backed Global Times. The war preparations, the report continued, should “serve as a strong deterrent to Taiwan secessionists and forces with ulterior motives in the South China Sea.” 

While referred to as “stealth,” the Type 022 missile boats exhibit many shapes, antennas and protruding structures likely to generate a return radar signature, a configuration which would appear somewhat less stealthy. The 140-ft fast attack craft are built with slightly rounded or curved hull shapes and very few sharp edges on the exterior, yet the boats do operate with a protruding mast and a range of vertical structures easily detectable to enemy radar. Ultimately, while referred to by the Chinese paper as stealthy, that might be a little bit ambitious of a term to use, given its overall structural configuration. For instance, a more stealthy ship like the U.S. Navy’s Zumwalt-class destroyer has virtually no protruding vertical structures and is instead built with flat, slightly angled hull panels, rounded weapons on deck and less sharply angled exterior. Even China’s somewhat stealthy new destroyer, the Type 055 guided missile destroyer, appears stealthier than the catamaran-shaped Type 022s. 

A Chinese military analyst quoted in the paper said the Type 022 stealth missile boats were now being developed for more of a deep or “blue-water” attack mission scope in addition to being intended for coastal patrol. Using speed and increasingly long-range anti-ship missiles, swarms of Type 022 boats could seek to overwhelm enemy surface ships and jam defensive systems, or simply attack from so many different angles at once the ship commanders have insufficient opportunities to mount effective defenses. 

However, the idea of using the boats for deep water attack, as suggested by the paper, is a concept which presents many complications in the realm of blue water warfare on the open seas. China operates as many as eighty-three Type 022 boats and they often travel in flotillas, as was the case in the recent combat preparation drills cited in the Global Time report, a circumstance which presents an easier opportunity for overhead surveillance or even larger-ship targeting systems to identify. The more concentrated an attack formation is, the more aggregated or condensed it is, the more detectable it is to an enemy. Groups of these boats operating in swarming fashion presents the kind of circumstance quickly recognizable by drones and long-range sensors on the open ocean. Whereas in closer-in coastal patrol missions, avoiding detection is less of a needed focus as the boats seek to use speed, maneuverability and near proximity weapons to achieve mission success. 

Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University. This article first appeared last month and is being republished due to reader interest.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

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The Marines’ Missile Imperative – WSJ

Next year’s Pentagon budget will total about $700 billion, but Congress could harm America’s defense against China if it misallocates some $100 million for missiles in the looming military appropriations bill.

How can such a small line-item make such a big difference? The answer has to do with U.S. strategy for great-power competition in the Pacific. China has developed an arsenal of thousands of ground-launched precision missiles especially along its eastern coastline. Beijing wants to use these to limit the U.S. Navy’s ability to operate, including if it decided to invade Taiwan.

The U.S. for decades has been banned from developing the same capabilities that China has under a 1987 treaty with the Soviet Union. The Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), banned all ground-launched missiles—nuclear or conventional—that can travel 500 to 5,500 kilometers. America’s precision fires can only be launched from planes or ships, making them far more expensive to deploy.

In 2019 the Trump Administration withdrew from the INF after it confirmed Russia’s repeated violations. This year the U.S. Marine commander, Gen. David Berger, asked for $125 million in 2021 to procure 48 ground-launched Tomahawk missiles. That’s part of his long-term strategy to make Marine units more lean and mobile to survive protracted island warfare with a sophisticated military like China’s.

Yet the House version of the Defense Appropriations Act proposes to give Gen. Berger $62.5 million for half as many Tomahawks. The Senate version appropriates nothing. Both houses also cut his proposed missile research and development budget.

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Russia Tests Anti-Satellite Missile: US – The Diplomat

Asia Defense | Security

This is the third Russian ASAT test this year.

The United States Space Command announced on December 16 that Russia has conducted a test of a direct-ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) missile. A statement issued by the command has Commander General James Dickinson saying, “Russia publicly claims it is working to prevent the transformation of outer space into a battlefield, yet at the same time Moscow continues to weaponize space by developing and fielding on-orbit and ground-based capabilities that seek to exploit U.S. reliance on space-based systems.”

Russia had previously conducted two ASAT tests and maneuvers earlier this year. In February, according to the U.S. Space Command, two Russian COSMOS satellites “which behaved similar to previous Russian satellites that exhibited characteristics of a space weapon, conducted maneuvers near a U.S. Government satellite that would be interpreted as irresponsible and potentially threatening in any other domain.” Russia also tested a direct-ascent one in April.

A direct-ascent ASAT is ground-launched. A co-orbital ASAT, on the hand, is space-based, in an orbit similar to the target which it can acquire after it receives an order remotely. But, such co-orbital ASATs have a dual use in that they can also be used for space situational awareness (SSA) activities. A Secure World Foundation report last year noted that Russia’s space based ASAT program “Burevestnik,” active since 2011, consists of four COSMOS satellites that are designed to provide the country SSA capabilities but “may play a supporting role for other counterspace weapons.” These findings that were corroborated in a different report produced by Center for Strategic and International Studies. (BreakingDefense has a nice summary of both reports here.)

“Russia’s persistent testing of these systems demonstrates threats to U.S. and allied space systems are rapidly advancing. The establishment of U.S. Space Command as the nation’s unified combatant command for space and U.S. Space Force as the primary branch of the U.S. Armed Forces that presents space combat and combat support capabilities to U.S. Space Command could not have been timelier. We stand ready and committed to deter aggression and defend our Nation and our allies from hostile acts in space,” Dickinson added in the Space Command statement on the latest Russian ASAT test.

As I have previously noted, the language in the new U.S. National Space Policy, released on December 9, when it comes to U.S. space deterrence and defense is much sharper from the one before it, released in 2010 by the Obama administration. The Trump policy notes: “Any purposeful interference with or an attack upon the space systems of the United States or its allies that directly affects national rights will be met with a deliberate response at a time, place, manner, and domain of our choosing [emphasis added].” Explaining the significance of this phrasing, I had written:

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The addition of “directly” affecting “national rights” seem to suggest a principle — more focused and expansive at once — of what would merit retaliatory military action; focused and narrow, because unlike the Obama NSP, this suggests that the redlines for the same, direct threats to national rights as enunciated, are clear. But it is the promise of retaliation in a domain of the United States’ choice that truly situates space as “fifth domain” for the military. It is consistent with principles that have so far been advanced for other domains, such as reserving the right to respond to an attack in one domain in another, for example by meeting a cyber-attack on critical infrastructure through a kinetic strike.

This sharpening of doctrine follows from growing counterspace capabilities of U.S. adversaries.

The race for ASAT capabilities is expanding. In March last year, India became the fourth county in the world – after the U.S., Russia, and China – to demonstrate an ASAT capability after it tested a direct-ascent “hit to kill” missile against one of its satellites. Experts claim that further ASAT tests of this kind contribute to significant space debris, rendering the operating environment for others hazardous.

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