North Korea announces successful test of hypersonic glider

On September 28, the North Korean armed forces launched a new short-range ballistic missile launch. But according to state site Rodong Sinmun, this test was more than just another expression of Pyongyang's annoyance at US maneuvers in South Korea and the Pacific, since it was, according to statements North Korea, to test a new missile equipped with a hypersonic glider, the Hwasong-8. The launch was reportedly tracked by South Korean radars, with a peak at 30 km and a recorded range of 200 km. But according to Pyongyang, the test would have been entirely satisfactory, even going so far as to publish a photo of the launch, with indeed, what could look like a hypersonic glider mounted on the ballistic missile. North Korean leader Kim Jung Un confirmed at the 8th North Korean Workers' Congress that the country was developing its own hypersonic weapons program, but at no time did Western experts believe that Pyongyang could have been so advanced. in this field, to the point of being able to test a hypersonic glider in real conditions, a technology that only the United States, Russia and China have mastered to date.

Obviously, you have to be very careful with these statements. Nothing indicates, in the information transmitted by the South Korean authorities, that the radar tracking of the missile could show characteristics of those with which hypersonic gliders are equipped, in particular a great maneuverability in atmospheric phase. The published photo (in main illustration) shows, for its part, indeed rudders on the missile warhead, but these differ somewhat in the form of the models used in Russia (Avagard), China (DF- 17) or in the United States (Waverider), and may suggest more of a maneuvering atmospheric reentry warhead than of a true hypersonic glider. Finally, the range recorded during the test, 200 km for an apogee of 30 km, is consistent with that of a short-range ballistic missile, and does not characterize a hypersonic glide phase.

The Chinese DF-17 is one of the few operational hypersonic gliders within an armed force. Note the appearance of the glider itself, quite different from what we guess from the North Korean model

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