March 28, 2023 · 🇰🇵 Dispatch Nuclear UUV

DPRK Claims to Possess a Nuclear-Armed UUV


North Korean state media is reporting that the DPRK has developed a new "underwater offensive system" - a nuclear-capable unmanned undersea vehicle named "Haeil," or "Tsunami."

The tone of the rhetoric surrounding its announcement suggests that the DPRK is modeling Haeil on Russia's nuclear-powered, nuclear armed torpedo/UUV, Poseidon.

Given DPRK experience in developing undersea warfare platforms, and its capability to indigenously develop or acquire advanced technologies, DPRK development of a conventionally powered, remotely-controlled or inertially-guided, weaponized UUV is not beyond DPRK capabilities.

The vehicle's reported endurance of sixty hours suggests that it is powered by onboard batteries, likely lithium-ion.

Whether such a system is practical or survivable (or real) is highly questionable, but to the extent that DPRK claims are to be taken seriously, we should resist the temptation to analyze DPRK UUV programs in terms of existing programs and their (evolving) CONOPs, be they Russian, Chinese, or Western.

UPDATE 03/28/2023: KCNA is reporting that a second test was conducted with a UUV named "Heil-1," and that the vehicle operated for approximately 42 minutes over a distance of 600 km.


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