North Korea fired several cruise missiles off west coast: Seoul

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North Korea fired several cruise missiles off the west coast on Friday, marking its fourth cruise missile launch this year, Yonhap news agency reported, citing the South Korean military. This is the latest in a series of the North’s cruise missile launches this year. According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), it detected the North’s launch at around 11 am from its west coast.

However, it did not specify the number of missiles, as reported by Yonhap News Agency. “While strengthening our monitoring and vigilance, our military has been closely coordinating with the United States to monitor additional signs of North Korea’s provocations,” the JCS said in a text message sent to reporters.

The latest missile launch comes just three days after the North conducted a test of the Hwasal-2 strategic cruise missile off the west coast. Earlier, on January 24, North Korea said that it had test-fired an unspecified number of Pulhwasal-3-31 cruise missiles from its west coast for the first time.

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The North fired submarine-launched cruise missiles on Sunday over the East Sea and later said that they were Pulhwasal-3-31s, Yonhap News Agency reported. These cruise missiles are powered by jet engines; enabling them to fly low and manoeuvre, which makes them harder to detect and intercept.

In the Korean language, Hwasal means an ‘arrow’ and Pulhwasal means a ‘fire arrow’. The cruise missiles are seen as posing threats to the South Korean air defence system at a time when North Korea has been improving the capabilities of ballistic missiles with varying ranges, warheads and launch platforms.

According to experts, the submarine-launched cruise missiles could pose a serious threat to South Korea’s air defence system if perfected, as they are harder to detect and shoot down due to their low-flying altitude and precision strike capabilities.