The Yomiuri Shimbun The Defense Ministry believes all four ballistic missiles North Korea launched Monday were an upgraded version of a Scud missile that could reach western Japan, it has been learned.
The Scud-ER (extended range) has a range of about 1,000 kilometers — significantly further than a regular Scud, a short-range ballistic missile that can fly about 300 kilometers to 500 kilometers. The extended range is the result of developments including reducing the Scud warhead’s weight.
The government, which believes North Korea has improved the accuracy of this missile, is stepping up its vigilance of the situation.
On Monday, North Korea fired four missiles from mobile launchpads toward the Sea of Japan. According to the ministry, the missiles flew about 1,000 kilometers before plunging into the sea. Three missiles landed inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
In February, North Korea launched a new type of ballistic missile that uses solid fuel, making it difficult to detect signs of a launch. The ministry believes the Scud-ER missiles launched this week used liquid fuel.
Pyongyang developed the Scud-ER in around 2005. In September last year, it fired three ballistic missiles that landed in almost the same area in Japan’s EEZ.