By Hyeon Shin
SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea has tested a new solid-propellant intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), marking the first time it has used the fuel in a long-range projectile.
Below are some of the features of solid fuel technology and how it can help North Korea improve its missile systems.
What is solid fuel technology?
Solid fuel is a mixture of fuel and oxidizer. Metal particles such as aluminum are often used as fuel, and ammonium perchlorate, a salt of perchloric acid and ammonia, is the most common oxidant.
The fuel and oxidizer are held together by a hard rubber material and are collected in a metal box.
When solid fuels are burned, oxygen from ammonium perchlorate combines with aluminum to produce vast amounts of power and temperatures in excess of 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,760 degrees Celsius); This creates thrust, lifting the rocket off the launch pad.
Who owns the technology?
Solid fuels date back centuries to Chinese fireworks, but they changed dramatically in the mid-20th century when the United States developed more powerful fuels.
In the early 1970s, the Soviet Union launched the RT-2, the first solid ICBM, followed by France, the SS3, a medium-range ballistic missile.
China began testing solid-state ICBMs in the late 1990s.
South Korea announced on Friday that it had acquired "effective and advanced" solid-fuel rocket technology.
SOLID VS. Liquid
Liquid fuels provide high pressure and power, but require more complex and expensive technology.
Solid fuel is dense and burns quickly, creating short duration thrust. Solid fuels can be stored for a long time without spoiling or spoiling, a common problem with liquid fuels.
Van Van Diepen, a former US government weapons expert currently working on Project 38 North, said solid-fuel missiles are easier to manufacture, safer and require less logistical support, making them more difficult to detect than liquid fuel weapons. He knows. .
Ankit Panda, a senior member of the US-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wants any country to develop a full-scale rocket-based nuclear force immediately before deploying solid-fuel rockets.
“These abilities are most vulnerable in times of crisis,” says Panda.
North Korea says the development of its new solid-fuel ICBM, the Hwasong-18, will "significantly improve" its ability to defend against a nuclear attack.
South Korea's Defense Ministry has tried to downplay the test, saying North Korea would need "more time and effort" to implement the technology.
According to Panda, with the increased diameter of the booster, North Korea may have trouble ensuring that missiles of that size do not rupture.
While the Hwasong-18 is not a "game changer," it will complicate the calculations for the United States and its allies in the event of a conflict.
"The most important interest of the United States and its allies is to reduce and increase the risk of nuclear use posed by North Korea's possession of these weapons," Panda said.
(Reporting by Hyunhee Shin; Additional reporting by Joo-Min Park; Editing by Jerry Doyle)