President of the Academy of National Defence Jang Chang Ha released an article titled "Clumsy SLBM launch of south Korea" on September 20.
The following is its full text:
The Academy of National Defence and I took note of the recent report made by south Korea.
The funny yet surprising news said that south Korea tries to rank itself among the world SLBM possessors.
The report said that the defence science institute of south Korea carried out an SLBM test-launch from 3 000 ton-class submarine "Tosan An Chang Ho" on September 15.
After the test-fire, the south Korean authorities trumpeted that "it is enough to deter the north's provocation" and "south Korea has become an SLBM nation" in their zealous promotion aimed at attaching significance to the successful test-launch.
Clear is its aim.
South Korea seems to brag so much about its possession of the underwater weapon generally known as "Game Changer" in the world, thinking that "why only the north? The south also has it". Its inner feelings are fully understandable.
South Korea must have wanted to relieve the increasing security uneasiness in the face of the continued news about missile development by the DPRK and inform the public at home and abroad that it also has become a powerful advanced defence technology possessor.
I have carefully read the news released by south Korea and closely looked at the pictures showing the test-launch.
What was shown in the pictures was clearly not an SLBM.
The disclosed pictures show that the weapon has the structure and shape of a typical ground-to-ground tactical ballistic missile. If the photos were not deliberately retouched for secrecy, the missile in the picture looked somewhat like a poor weapon without all its shape and far from an underwater weapon.
The questionable weapon looks like a "Hyunmu-serial" missile, short-range ground-to-ground ballistic missile that had already been possessed by the south Korean army.
The outer length is estimated to be about 6 metres and the diameter to be less than 800mm, and in view of the flame, its range seems to be less than 500km.
The mode of warhead-cover separation after emergence from water shows that it was an imitation of India's tactical SLBM "K-15".
A tactical-class missile is small in mass at the time of launch, and it is seriously vulnerable to wave, current and the speed of submarine. It, therefore, needs proper underwater attitude maintenance if it is to be launched in deep water. If not, the attitude angle and the change in the attitude angular velocity at the time of emergence become very big, making it hard for the missile to maintain its attitude.
The pictures of the recent test-launch by south Korea show that it was launched in a shallow depth only with the application of cold launch technology without active attitude maintenance underwater.
After the emergence from water, the attitude showed no inclination until the ignition of the missile engine and the size of water column and the amount of water drawn by the missile were small. The reason is that it was launched at a very shallow depth. It can easily be seen that the launch was not made in the middle of operational manoeuvrability but was made at a stop position or while moving at a low speed.
This proves that core underwater launch technologies like the complicated fluid flow interpretation indispensable for underwater launch have not been completed.
In a word, it was somewhat a clumsy "product".
Whatever the purpose, the hasty revelation of the pictures which would definitely arouse doubt of all the military experts indicates that south Korea must have been pressed to hastily publish around the world the news about its possession of SLBM with its own efforts.
To develop a wholesome SLBM with perfect underwater operational manoeuvrability and with the capability to have influence big enough to tilt the war in one's favour in terms of power, one needs a very high technology and is bound to accumulate a variety of experience in the course of its development.
SLBM is housed in a special and confined small space of submarine and, therefore, it is quite different from ground-launched missile and special in technical terms, to say nothing of its shape, structure and movement characteristics. It is actually a modern weapon system requiring complicated technology.
Just bringing a ground-launched missile up to the surface of water and igniting it cannot turn it into a fully-shaped and fully-functioning SLBM.
SLBM differs from ground missile in terms of outer shape and it must meet all major tangled launch conditions of underwater operational environment like depth of the sea and various maritime and meteorological characteristics and environment at the time of manoeuvrability. What is most important here is missile manoeuvrability.
It seems from the pictures that tuck-away winglets were attached to the projectile to ensure in-flight manoeuvrability and stability and that the attitude was controlled with the help of air or gas rudders.
The attachment of the tuck-away winglets to the projectile points to the elementary development stage.
In actuality, SLBM needs to choose its attitude control mode and perform powerful control ability for setting its attitude right even if its attitude is inclined so much as to be about 30 degrees after its emergence from water due to various perturbations to which the weapon is exposed during its underwater passage.
Attitude maintenance during underwater passage is also very important. So in some cases fins are attached to the rear part of projectile during the development of SLBM. We have experienced all these processes.
Most of SLBMs possessed by the world's SLBM possessors including the DPRK provide propulsion vector control by rotary jet nozzle.
If what south Korea opened to public and trumpeted so much is an SLBM, it is just in the elementary toddling stage.
Lots of military experts will also view its practical utility with sceptical eyes.
Such meaningless missile is just for "bragging" and "self-comforting", as it has only hundreds of kilometres of firing range and it can load only conventional warhead weighing 1-2 tons at most and it is launched from conventional submarine.
Recently, rumour has it that south Korea is going to increase the warhead weight to 3 tons but it can never rival SLBM of other countries loading scores or hundreds of kilotons of nuclear warheads.
The missile south Korea revealed to be an SLBM of its own technology cannot be an effective military attack means in a war.
South Korea's SLBM has not yet reached the stage of being regarded as a weapon of strategic and tactical significance which can be accepted as a threatening means.
But, away from the state of SLBM development by south Korea and its excuses, we have meditated on the purpose of its attachment to the development of submarine-launched weapon system.
South Korea's ambitious efforts to improve submarine-launched weapon system are a clear omen of military tension that will certainly be aggravated on the Korean peninsula and this awakens us once again to what we should do.