North Korea's New Torpedo-Drone
Kim Jong Un likes to unveil new 'superweapons' at its nighttime military parades. For several years this has been dominated by ever more fearsome ballistic missiles, including the submarine launched Pukguksong family. This year it was the turn of the drones. As well as copies of the American MQ-9 Reaper, there was an attention grabbing underwater drone.
Underwater drones are only slowly starting to stir the public's emotions. What this one has going for it in that regard is that it is a) massive and b) possibly nuclear armed.
The drone is likely part of the 'Haeil' family although its designation is not reported. Four of the new drone-torpedoes were displayed.
New 'Haeil' drone torpedo Specifications (provisional)
Length: 16 meters
Diameter: 1.5-1.6 meters
Warhead: Conventional or nuclear
Propulsion: Diesel-electric (to be confirmed)
Range: 1,000km (540 nautical miles) < reported in April 2023 for Haeil
Speed: 4.6 knots < reported in April 2023 for Haeil, likely much faster at terminal phase
Depth: 80-100 meters < reported in April 2023 for Haeil
The weapon (and I believe it is effect a mega torpedo) is remarkably similar to Russia's Poseidon (KANYON). That Intercontinental Nuclear-Powered Nuclear-Armed Autonomous Torpedo is one of President Putin's super weapons. This new drone-torpedo is likely intended to be Kim Jong Un's close equivalent, at least in propaganda terms. And it is not far off.
The new drone-torpedo is larger and different from the 'Haeil-2' revealed in April this year. Possibly it is the improved production version. It is possible that performance details attributed to the Haeil-2 in April are actually for this larger weapon. For example the range of 1,000km is much more credible for the larger vehicle.
My initial estimate, based on the weapons' size relative to the truck and roadwheels, is that it is approximately 16 meters (52 feet) long. It is around 1.5-1.6 meters (4.9-5.2 feet) in diameter. This places it in the same ballpark as the Poseidon but still significantly shorter and likely slightly smaller in diameter.
Where the North Korean system will diverge from the Russian one is in propulsion. The Poseidon is nuclear powered, giving it incredible range. The North Korean one is electric, possibly with diesel engines (there appear to be three air filters over the propulsion space, possibly for snorkeling.
The stern arrangement is almost identical to the Russian Poseidon weapon.
Loose End: Mystery Submarine In Sinpo, North Korea
The new underwater vehicle is possibly the same one, or closely related, to an unidentified 'midget submarine' observed in Sinpo in 2020. The length matches although there were hints at a sail in the satellite images. If so, this suggests that the project has been underway for several years.
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Poseidon Intercontinental Nuclear-Powered Nuclear-Armed Autonomous Torpedo, and countering it
North Korean Modified-Romeo Class ballistic missile submarine w/Cutaway