Last updated
Type Medium-range ballistic missile
Place of origin North Korea
Service history
In service 2017
Used by North Korea
Production history
Manufacturer North Korea
Produced 2016
Length ~9 m
Diameter ~1.4 m
Warhead nuclear, conventional

Engine Solid fuel rocket
Propellant Solid
1,200 km ~ 2,000 km (est)
8×8 tracked TEL
Chosŏn'gŭl 2
Hancha 北極星
Revised Romanization Bukgeukseong i-hyeong
McCune–Reischauer Pukkŭksŏng i-hyŏng

Pukkuksong-2 (Chosŏn'gŭl : 북극성2형) also known as KN-15 [1] by intelligence outside of North Korea, is a medium-range or intermediate-range ballistic missile under development by North Korea, which unlike the nation's earlier designs, uses solid fuel. [2] Described as 'nuclear-capable', its first test flight was on 12 February 2017. [3] The state-run KCNA news agency said that leader Kim Jong-un supervised the test, which was described as a success.

Hangul Native alphabet of the Korean language

The Korean alphabet, known as Hangul, has been used to write the Korean language since its creation in the 15th century by King Sejong the Great. It may also be written as Hangeul following the standard Romanization.

North Korea Sovereign state in East Asia

North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, is a country in East Asia constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula, with Pyongyang the capital and the largest city in the country. To the north and northwest, the country is bordered by China and by Russia along the Amnok and Tumen rivers and to the south it is bordered by South Korea, with the heavily fortified Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two. Nevertheless, North Korea, like its southern counterpart, claims to be the legitimate government of the entire peninsula and adjacent islands.

Medium-range ballistic missile class of ballistic missiles defined by range

A medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) is a type of ballistic missile with medium range, this last classification depending on the standards of certain organizations. Within the U.S. Department of Defense, a medium-range missile is defined by having a maximum range of between 1,000 and 3,000 km. In modern terminology, MRBMs are part of the wider grouping of theatre ballistic missiles, which includes any ballistic missile with a range of less than 3,500 km.


Analysts have described the new missile as 'more stable, more efficient, and harder to detect' than North Korea's previous liquid-fuelled designs. [4] In contrast to older, liquid-fueled rockets that take hours to prepare for launch and are easier to detect and counteract by other countries, the Pukkuksong-2 is a solid-fuel rocket that can be launched in minutes. [5] [2]


The Pukkuksong-2 is an enlarged, two stage development of the Pukkuksong-1, a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). The missile is canister launched from its enclosed transport container. It uses a 'cold-launching' system, which starts using compressed gas, followed by the engine igniting in mid-flight. [6] The container is a smooth cylinder inside, without rails, and on launch a series of slipper blocks could be seen to fall away from the missile. These act as bearings while the missile is projected through the close-fitting tube, a system first seen with the US Peacekeeper. A series of grid fins are deployed at the base of the missile to provide aerodynamic stability during flight. The transporter erector launcher (TEL) is a new design, conceptually similar to the Russian 2P19 TEL of the R-17M Elbrus SS-1 Scud-B; fully tracked and claimed to be of indigenous Korean manufacture, rather than previous Chinese wheeled launchers, derivatives of the ubiquitous MAZ-543 design. [7]

The Pukkŭksŏng-1 or Bukgeukseong-1, alternatively KN-11 in intelligence communities outside North Korea is a North Korean, submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) that was successfully flight tested on 24 August 2016 and is expected by South Korean military sources to reach operational deployment as early as 2017.

Submarine-launched ballistic missile Ballistic missile capable of being launched from submerged submarines

A submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) is a ballistic missile capable of being launched from submarines. Modern variants usually deliver multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs) each of which carries a nuclear warhead and allows a single launched missile to strike several targets. Submarine-launched ballistic missiles operate in a different way from submarine-launched cruise missiles.

LGM-118 Peacekeeper former land-based ICBM deployed by the United States

The LGM-118 Peacekeeper, also known as the MX missile, was a land-based ICBM deployed by the United States starting in 1986. The Peacekeeper was a MIRV missile that could carry up to 10 re-entry vehicles, each armed with a 300-kiloton W87 warhead in a Mk.21 reentry vehicle (RV). A total of 50 missiles were deployed starting in 1986, after a long and contentious development program that traced its roots into the 1960s.

On its first test flight it flew 500 km (310 miles) on a deliberately inefficient trajectory. [2] Its operational range is variously estimated at between 1,200 km (750 miles) [2] and 3,000 km (1,900 miles). [4]

List of Pukkuksong-2 tests

AttemptDateLocationPre-launch announcement / detectionOutcomeAdditional Notes
111 February 2017, about 8:00am Pyongyang Standard Time [8] North Pyongan NoneSuccessThe report stated that United States and South Korea military were initially trying to determine whether the missile was a Rodong-1 or a modified Musudan missile, with some analysis by Jeffrey Lewis of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies suggesting this test be treated as North Korean's test of an ICBM first stage. [8]

However, North Korea announced less than a day later that this is a successful land-based variant, named Pukkuksong-2, a new Korean's nuclear capable strategic weapon that uses high-angle trajectory with due consideration of the safety of neighboring countries.

KCNA also announced that this test is the upgraded, extended-range version of its submarine-launched ballistic missile (see above), which also uses a solid fuel engine, that this allows them to verify a "feature of evading interception," and that this represents "the mobility and operation of the new type missile launching truck".

Military source from South Korea note that this missile reached an altitude of 550 km (340 miles) and flew a distance of about 500 km, landing off its east coast, towards Japan.

Kim Jong-un recently announced during his New Year's speech that his country is in the final stages of testing its ICBM. [9]

This launch occurred during a state visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the golf resort of President Trump in Florida and also the first missile test under Trump's administration. The two heads of state presented a united front in response. At the White House on Friday, Shinzo Abe called the test "absolutely intolerable" and said that Trump "assured me the United States will always stand with Japan 100 percent." Donald Trump did not give a mention of South Korea at all. [8]

221 May 2017, about 4:29pm Pyongyang Standard Time Lake Yonpung, Pukchang County [10] NoneSuccessOn May 21, another successful missile test occurred, following the same lofted trajectory, with identical range and apogee. [11] Following the test, North Korea reported that it was the final test launch to verify all technical characteristics performed "perfect" and initial operating capability and mass-production would soon proceed. [12] The launch site was geolocated to 39°37′05″N125°48′13″E / 39.6180283°N 125.8035851°E / 39.6180283; 125.8035851 . [10]

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Sejil, or Sejjil, is a family of Iranian solid-fueled medium range ballistic missiles. The Sejil are replacements for the Shahab liquid-fueled ballistic missiles. According to US Pentagon sources, the missile profile of the Sejil closely matches those of the Ashura (Ghadr-110) and the Samen. The last test flight occurred in 2011.

The Hwasong-10, also known by the names BM-25 system and Musudan, is a mobile intermediate-range ballistic missile developed by North Korea. Hwasong-10 was first revealed to the international community in a military parade on 10 October 2010 celebrating the Korean Worker's Party's 65th anniversary, although experts believe these were mock-ups of the missile. Hwasong-10 resembles the shape of the Soviet Union's R-27 Zyb submarine-launched missile, but is slightly longer. It is based on the R-27, which uses a 4D10 engine propelled by unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) and nitrogen tetroxide (NTO). These propellants are much more advanced than the kerosene compounds used in North Korea’s Scuds and Nodong missiles.

The KN-08, also known under the names Rodong-C missiles and Hwasong-13, is a road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile believed to be under development by North Korea. The changes shown in the mock-up displayed in October 2015 indicated a change from a three to two-stage design.

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17 missile tests were conducted by North Korea throughout 2017. These tests ranged in success, and included first tests of the DPRK's new missile, the Hwasong-12, which was the most-tested missile type over the course of the year. 2017's missile tests are especially notable due to the several instances of North Korean missiles passing over Japan, provoking a response from the Japanese government, as well as the test of an ICBM, the range of which prompted an Emergency Debate of the UN Security Council.

The Hwasong-12 is a mobile intermediate-range ballistic missile developed by North Korea. The Hwasong-12 was first revealed to the international community in a military parade on 14 April 2017 celebrating the Day of the Sun which is the birthday anniversary of North Korea's founding President, Kim Il-sung.

The Hwasong-14, also known under alternative US designation codename KN-20, is a mobile intercontinental ballistic missile developed by North Korea. It had its maiden flight on 4 July 2017, which coincided with the United States' Independence Day. North Korea is the only known operator of this missile.

Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile developed by North Korea

The Hwasong-15 is an intercontinental ballistic missile developed by North Korea. It had its maiden flight on 28 November 2017, around 3 a.m. local time. It is the first ballistic missile developed by North Korea that is theoretically capable of reaching all of the United States mainland.


  1. Sang-Hun, Choe (2017-04-04). "North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile a Day Before U.S.-China Summit". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-04-23.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Schilling, John (February 13, 2017). "The Pukguksong-2: A Higher Degree of Mobility, Survivability and Responsiveness". 38 North, U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. Archived from the original on February 23, 2017. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  3. World. "North Korea says test of new nuclear-capable Pukguksong-2 missile a success". Smh.com.au. Retrieved 2017-02-13.
  4. 1 2 Julian Ryall, Tokyo. "North Korea's 'game changing' new missile is more stable, more efficient -and harder to detect". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-02-13.
  5. Chose, Sang-hun; Sanger, David E. (Feb 13, 2017). "North Korea Claims Progress on Long-Range Goal With Missile Test". The New York Times. USA. Archived from the original on February 18, 2017. Retrieved February 25, 2017.
  6. "North says its missile was 'absolute success'-INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily". Koreajoongangdaily.joins.com. Retrieved 2017-02-13.
  7. Andrea Berger; Joshua Pollack (13 February 2017). "North Korea missile test: What's changed?". BBC News Online .
  8. 1 2 3 "North Korea fires ballistic missile, first since Trump elected in U.S."
  9. Kim Jong Un hints at North Korea test of intercontinental ballistic missile, CBS News - January 1, 2017, 8:06 AM
  10. 1 2 Abazović, Aldin. "Exact location of latest #NorthKorea test of Pukguksong-2 (KN-15) IRBM from two camera angles. Location - Lake Yonpung". Twitter. Location: Lake Yonpung 39.6180283, 125.8035851
  11. "N. Korea declares latest ballistic missile launch a success". RT International. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  12. Ji, Dagyum. "N. Korea announces Pukguksong-2 launch, says missile can now be "mass-produced"". NK News. Retrieved 22 May 2017.