WASHINGTON — North Korea tested two more missiles Friday, the third such demonstration in a week. Once again the missiles fell into the Sea of Japan and raised the ire of South Korean and U.S. military officials.
The tests have come the week before the U.S. and South Korea begin a new military exercise, the first larger-scale drill since President Donald Trump ordered a stand-down of so-called Tier One exercises last year as a goodwill gesture to North Korea.
They also come in advance of a trip to Asia by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, whose first trip abroad as the new Pentagon chief is to include stops in South Korea and Japan.
According to published reports, two different systems were tested in the recent launches. One was the the KN-23 missile, which is based on a Russian design, the other a new version of a 300mm multiple rocket launcher system, according to reports.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a statement to the media, said the missiles in the Friday test flew about 140 miles with a maximum altitude of 15 miles, traveling at the hypersonic speed of Mach 6.9.
President Donald Trump has described Pyongyang’s missile launches as “very standard” and “short-range” and nothing to be concerned about.