North Korea Says Its New Missile Can Turn Tanks Into "Boiled Pumpkins"

It's an update of an old Soviet design and could be used in guerrilla warfare.

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North Korea's newspaper the Rodong Sinmun has announced the country has a new anti-tank missile capable of destroying enemy tanks, rendering them "no more than a boiled pumpkin". The  missile, an updated version of an older Soviet design, will be used for guerrilla warfare and may even be used in terrorist attacks. 

The announcement, which included photos of Kim Jong-un observing the destruction of a target tank, praised the missile system as "as accurate as a sniper's rifle" and having the "longest firing range in the world." The missile was described as a weapon for "guerrilla warfare," lightweight and capable of defending the country from enemy tanks, armored vehicles, and even ships. 

The unnamed missile is apparently the "Bulsae-2", or Phoenix-2. Bulsae-2 appears to be a copy of the Soviet  (Russian for "Bassoon") anti-tank guided missile. First designed in the early 1960s, the 9K111 was meant to be a portable system to destroy NATO tanks on the battlefield. The missile has a range of 1.2 miles and can penetrate 19 to 23 inches of steel armor.

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North Korea claims its missile is laser-guided, an upgrade from the 9K111's command guidance system. Laser-guided anti-tank missiles have an advantage in that the launcher and the laser designator can be in two different places. So, in a hypothetical guerrilla warfare scenario, a North Korean soldier with a laser marker could remain concealed on a hilltop, point his laser at an enemy tank, and radio for another soldier manning the missile to launch in his direction. Once fired, the missile picks up on the laser beam and homes in on whatever object the beam is pointing at. 

The video's release coincides with a warning earlier this month that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un terrorist attacks against South Korean targets. A laser-guided anti-tank missile system could be used to attack military targets—such as armored vehicle patrols—just over the border.

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Although little is known about the missile, it already has been exported. The has the Bulsae-2 in its arsenal, as do Hamas splinter groups. A Turkish Islamist web site Hamas' Qassam Brigades used a Bulsae-2 to destroy a on the Gaza Strip.

If there's a bright side to the Bulsae-2 news, it's that North Korea apparently can't afford too many of them. The North Korean Army's anti-tank arsenal is woefully outdated and could use a system like the Bulsae-2 to counter South Korean and American Abrams tanks, but Pyongyang apparently can't afford to upgrade its entire army with the new missile.

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