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North Korea Is Now Launching Ballistic Missiles From Trains And That’s A Big Deal

A rail-mobile missile force would, as Marshal Pak reportedly observed, give the North Korean regime additional ways to rapidly disperse weapons of this kind and do so in a way that could be challenging for opponents to detect and monitor. Rail tunnels throughout North Korea would effectively provide hardened bunkers for these mobile missile launchers to hide in and would further frustrate attempts by adversaries to track their movements, let alone destroy them. They could be rolled out, fired, and then rolled back in the tunnel or moved to another tunnel very rapidly, making them extremely hard to destroy. They could also be moved around in disguised cars among other normal rail cars making them almost impossible to spot for daily operations.

North Korea is hardly the first country to see the potential value in a rail-mobile ballistic missile force for exactly these reasons. Russia, and the Soviet Union before it, previously deployed rail-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), known as the RT-23 Molodets. The Kremlin had also previously planned to reintroduce this capability, with a system called Barguzin, before canceling that project to focus on the Avangard hypersonic missile.


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