North Korea's claim that it test-fired a "new weapons system" different from the ones it already had does carry weight.
Apart from the fact that each launcher load can carry two missiles, a military source said the missiles launched by North Korea last Saturday appeared to have traits similar to the U.S. Army's surface-to-surface tactical missile system, known as ATACMS in that they can scatter hundreds of sub-munitions during the final dive-in phase into an area of three or four soccer fields simultaneously with the aim of inflicting pervasive damage.
That's different from the ballistic missiles launched by the North during the series of launches conducted over the two weeks since July 25th aimed at targeting a specific location or building.
Local media outlets have speculated that North Korea's latest missiles are particularly critical in that they're capable of inflicting damage to key military air bases in South Korea that house F-35A stealth fighter jets, making it difficult to restore runways when they're targeted.
They're thought to be hard to intercept considering their low flight altitude, which was recorded at some 48 kilometers, and their maximum flight speed of Mach six.one, which is around 7,466 kilometers per hour.
They're different from the other short-range ballistic missiles the North has launched this summer, which South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff had said, based on simulations, that they're able to neutralize using the Patriot anti-missile system.
The spokesperson for the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae, however, countered speculation Monday that it is not true South Korea is unprepared to counter the missiles currently being fired by North Korea and that the government has always stated North Korea's short-range ballistic missiles could be intercepted by the anti-missile systems based on the Patriot.
Based on photographs released by the North, the latest weapon is not believed to be same one it test-fired on July 31st which local military experts said appeared to be a mutliple-launch rocket system equipped with a caliber of 400 milimeters, a size which is bigger than the 300 milimeters seen until now.
"And local experts say that means it's now capable of targeting critical facilities in South Korea more accurately.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News."