A U.S. expert has claimed that North Korea's Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missiles could be combat ready by as early as next year.
In an article on Monday contributed to the North Korea-focused Web site 38 North, Dr. John Schilling said the North is “continuing with an aggressive test schedule” to make the Musudan missiles operational.
The engineering specialist at the Aerospace Corporation said although nearly all of the seven Musudan launches in the past seven months by the North were unsuccessful, the regime is not “simply repeating old failures.”
He claimed that “another seven months of training and practice could bring them to a real initial operational capability.”
When the North conducted a Musudan test in June, Schilling had assessed it was a partial success and predicted the regime will be able to deploy not only Musudan ballistic missiles but also intercontinental ballistic missiles such as the KN-08 by the early 2020s.
According to U.S. Strategic Command(STRATCOM), the North fired what is presumed to be a Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile at 12:33 p.m. Saturday in the northwestern city of Kusong in North Pyongan Province, but it exploded immediately after launch.