by WorldTribune Staff, December 5, 2017
North Korea’s Hwasong-15 ICBM broke up on re-entry, according to a U.S. official and the crew of a Cathay Pacific airliner that reported witnessing the test.
U.S. and allied ships are reportedly still searching for debris from the ICBM, which was launched on Nov. 29 and came down near the coast of Japan.
While the missile flew higher and longer than its predecessors, the breaking apart of the Hwasong-15 is an indication that Pyongyang still lacks the key component of reliable heat shielding, the U.S. official said.
“The North Koreans had problems with re-entry,” the official said, according to a CNN report.
The crew of a Cathay Pacific airplane flying from San Francisco to Hong Kong reported seeing the Hwasong-15 break apart at the end of its test flight.
According to the South China Morning Post, Cathay’s general manager of operations Mark Hoey told staff in a message that “today the crew of CX893 repAll Postsorted, ‘Be advised, we witnessed the DPRK missile blow up and fall apart near our current location.’ ”
Analysts say the ICBM tested on Nov. 29 is much larger and seems capable of significantly longer flight times than its predecessor Hwasong-14.
The ICBM also appears to use liquid fuel for at least some of its engines. A fully solid-fueled missile would be much faster to launch and harder for outside observers to detect, analysts say.
North Korea stopped giving advance notice of its missile tests in 2014.