North Korea Unleashes Flurry of Missiles as US War Games End

October 10, 2022Carl Prine
Dictator Kim Jong Un directs a missile launch at an undisclosed location in North Korea, according to an image released Oct. 10, 2022, by the state-controlled newspaper Rodong Sinmun. Photo by Rodong Sinmun.

Dictator Kim Jong Un directs a missile launch at an undisclosed location in North Korea, according to an image released Oct. 10, 2022, by the state-controlled newspaper Rodong Sinmun. Photo by Rodong Sinmun.

North Korea has unleashed a flurry of tactical nuke test strikes, strongman Kim Jong Un’s bon voyage to an American, South Korean, and Japanese flotilla wrapping up two weeks of war games near the divided peninsula.

A barrage on Sunday, Oct. 9, marked a final salvo in an escalating series of North Korean launches that began 14 days earlier while trilateral exercises involving the US Navy’s Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group and guided-missile destroyers from both Japan and South Korea played out offshore.

“The military drills were carried out amid the ongoing dangerous military drills staged by large-scale combined naval forces, including U.S. carrier, Aegis destroyer and nuclear-powered submarine in the waters off the Korean Peninsula,” stated Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of North Korea’s ruling Communist Party, on Monday.

The publication claimed Kim personally “guided the military drills on the spot” to “check and improve the reliability and combat power” of North Korea’s nuclear forces and to “send a strong military reaction warning to the enemies.” 

North Korea

Lt. j.g. Sylvester Williams signals an F/A-18E Super Hornet from the "Eagles" of Strike Fighter Squadron 115, after landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan in the Sea of Japan, Oct. 6, 2022. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael B. Jarmiolowski.

On Thursday, the US Navy’s guided-missile cruiser Chancellorsville joined Japan’s destroyers Chokai and Ashigara and the South Korean destroyer Sejong the Great to conduct their own ballistic missile defense exercise, simulating how they would swat down incoming North Korean missiles.

The carrier strike group’s maritime maneuvers also included a counter-special-operations exercise with South Korea; blasting apart targets with Japanese destroyers; and anti-submarine warfare maneuvers involving all three navies.

“Our commitment to regional security and the defense of our allies and partners is demonstrated by our flexibility and adaptability to move this strike group to where it is needed,” said US Navy Rear Adm. Michael Donnelly, the commander of the carrier strike group, in a prepared statement released Saturday. “We have an inherent capability to respond to any challenge, and we will continue to train and operate alongside our allies and partners and uphold the rules-based international order wherever we fly, sail, and operate.”

According to Pyongyang, the initial North Korean test occurred at dawn on Sept. 25 and involved a ballistic missile launched from a silo under an undisclosed water reservoir in the northwestern part of the country. The conventional warhead exploded over an unoccupied portion of the Sea of Japan, officials claimed.

A volley of missiles on Sept. 28 mirrored a tactical nuclear attack on South Korean airports, with similar simulated attacks repeated on Sept. 29 and Oct. 1 that included air bursts and “direct precision and dispersion strikes, proving the accuracy and might of our weapon systems,” according to Rodong Sinmun. 

North Korea

Sideboys and officers render honors to Capt. Fred Goldhammer on the flight deck the US Navy's aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan in the Sea of Japan, Oct. 7, 2022. Goldhammer departed the ship after a change of command ceremony where he was relieved by Capt. Daryle Cardone as commanding officer. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael B. Jarmiolowski.

On Tuesday, North Korea launched what it claimed was a new ground-to-ground intermediate-range ballistic missile that flew roughly 2,430 nautical miles and slammed into the Pacific Ocean east of the Japanese islands.

Two days later, North Korea unleashed “super-large multiple rocket launchers” that volleyed tactical ballistic missiles on flight paths designed to simulate attacks on South Korean military command and control centers, Rodong Sinmun reported.

The final test, on Sunday, mirrored how North Korea would attack South Korean ports, the newspaper added.

The US Navy shrugged off North Korea’s missile launches, which landed nowhere near where the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan and its escorts Chancellorsville and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Benfold sailed.

"Facing challenges together with our allies is an important part of our role as a forward-deployed unit," Capt. Edward Angelinas, Chancellorsville’s commanding officer, said in a prepared statement. "The Chancellorsville crew is proud to contribute to our mutual defense agreements and increase our interoperability and partnership with the maritime forces of Republic of Korea and Japan."

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Carl Prine
Carl Prine

Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

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