US detects ‘highly unusual’ North Korean submarine activity – reports

The U.S. military has detected “highly unusual” North Korean submarine activity, just days after the rogue nation conducted its second test of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The U.S. military has detected “highly unusual and unprecedented levels” of North Korean submarine activity just days after Pyongyang’s second intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch this month, CNN reported quoting a defense official.

There is also evidence that Pyongyang has conducted an “ejection test”, which examines a missile’s “cold-launch” system, the report added. An ejection test uses high-pressure steam to propel a missile out of the launch canister into the air before its engines ignite. This helps prevent flames and heat from the engine from damaging either the submarine, submersible barge or any nearby equipment used to launch the missile.

According to the US defense official, the Sunday’s ejection test was carried out on land at Sinpo Naval Shipyard. This would be North Korea’s third ejection test this month and and fourth this year, and demonstrates that Pyongyang is making progress in developing its submarine launch capabilities.

The latest test comes after Friday’s intercontinental missile launch by North Korea that traveled about 600 miles before falling in the Sea of Japan. Experts say the test showed a capability of reaching the U.S. mainland.

North Korea’s submarine fleet is believed to have about 70 submarines, though the majority are quite old and likely cannot fire missiles.

CNN had reported earlier this month that North Korea had sent a diesel-powered Romeo Class sub on an unprecedented patrol and had been outfitting its Gorae Sub with a possible missile launch demonstration tube.

The report. citing two US defense officials, added that the North Korean Romeo-class submarine was engaged in “unusual deployment activity” in the waters off the coast of Japan and was patrolling farther that it has ever gone, sailing some 100 kilometers out to sea in international waters.

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