Korean People's Army Strategic Force
The Strategic Rocket Forces (Chosŏn'gŭl: 조선인민군 전략로케트군, Hanja: 朝鮮人民軍 戰略로케트軍), also known as Missile Guidance Bureau (Chosŏn'gŭl: 미사일지도국; Hanja: 미사일指導局) is a military branch of the Korean People's Army that oversees North Korea's nuclear and conventional strategic missiles. It is mainly armed with surface-to-surface missiles of domestic design as well as older Soviet and Chinese models. The KPA-SRF was established in 1999 when several missile units under KPA Ground Force Artillery Command were re-organized into a single missile force reporting directly to the office of the Supreme Commander of the KPA via the General Staff.
|Strategic Rocket Forces / Strategic Missile Forces|
|조선인민군 전략로케트군 |
|Type||Strategic missile force|
South Pyongan, North Korea
|Commander||Lt. Gen. Kim Rak-gyom|
Shortly after Kim Il-Sung's 5 October 1966 instructions to jointly develop the military and the economy, the Second Machine Industry Ministry, under the Korean Workers Party secretary in charge of military defence industries was formed to regulate the procurement and production of weapons.
Some sources assert that North Korea had begun the production of multiple rocket launchers in the early 1960s. It might be logically assumed that by 1965, Kim Il-Sung had probably made the political decision to establish an indigenous missile production capability, after the Soviet Union could not produce a suitable ballistic missiles arrangement to favor his request.
Nevertheless, during the 1960s the Soviet Union began to provide free rockets over ground (FROGs), surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), and coastal defense antiship missiles, which provided North Korean engineers groundwork technologies for rocket propulsion, guidance, and related missile systems. In 1965, North Korea founded the Hamhŭng Military Academy to train North Korean defence personnel in rocket and missile research and development. By 1970, North Korea had procured surface-to-ship missiles and surface-to-air missiles from China. North Korea also sought assistance to establish its own independent sovereign missile defence development program.
In September 1971, North Korea signed a defence agreement with China to procure, develop, and produce ballistic missiles. Around 1977 final details for bilateral cooperation grew when North Korean engineers participated in a joint development program for the DF-61. The DF-61 was ideally to be a liquid-fueled ballistic missile with a range of about 600 km and a 1,000 kg warhead. The program was cancelled in 1978 because of Chinese domestic political opinions.
Around this same time, North Korea was also seeking Soviet missiles and technology. North Korea procured Soviet-made Scud-B ballistic missiles. The timing of the acquisition is unclear. One North Korean defector asserted that the Soviet Union provided about 20 Scud-Bs in 1972. This claim has not been substantiated and is probably not credible.
By 1984, North Korea had produced and flight-tested its Hwasong-5, which reportedly has a range of 320 km compared to the Scud-B's 300 km; the extra 20 km is attributed to improvements in the missile's propulsion system and not a reduction in the mass of the warhead. Just as North Korea was beginning to manufacture the Hwasŏng-5, Iran approached North Korea in 1985 to purchase the missile for use in the “war of the cities” with Iraq. North Korea began to construct missile bases for the Hwasŏng-5 around 1985-86, just before the missile went into serial production around 1987. North Korea's ballistic missile development then accelerated at a fast pace; as soon as mass production of the Hwasŏng-5 began, North Korea began developing the Hwasŏng-6 (火星-6 or Scud-C), the Rodong (commonly known as Nodong-1), the Paektusan-1 (白頭山-1; commonly known as the Taepodong-1), the Paektusan-2 (白頭山-2; commonly known as the Taepodong-2), and the Musudan.
Despite the difficulties of missile development and the fact that other countries had tried and failed to develop medium- and intermediate-range missiles, North Korea began to produce Rodong prototypes around the same time it was beginning mass production of the Hwasŏng-6 (Scud-C). The first Rodong deployments were in February 1995, even though the system only had two flight tests—one catastrophic failure and one successful flight at a reduced range. In 1999 different missile units, which were subordinate to the KPA Ground Force Artillery Command, were re-organized into a single missile force - the Missile Guidance Bureau. It would be only in 2012 when Kim Jong-un referred to the service as the Strategic Rocket Forces during his commemorative address honoring the centennial year of Kim Il-sung's birth.
Since Kim Jong-un came to power in December 2011, North Korea has attempted to launch nearly three times as many ballistic missiles as during the entire reign of his father, Kim Jong-il. Between 2011 and the end of 2016, North Korea launched a total of 42 ballistic missiles: 20 short-range Scud- type missiles with a range of 300-1,000 km, 10 medium-range No Dong missiles that can fly 1,300-1,500 km, eight intermediate-range Hwasong 10 (Musudan) missiles traditionally assessed to have a range of 3,500-4,000 km, and four submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). These tests can be divided into three categories: tests of operational missiles, tests of missiles North Korea considered operational but were untested (such as the Musudan), and those still under development (such as the Pukkuksong [Polaris] family of solid-fuelled missiles).
In 2012 the United Nations and independent experts said that North Korea did not operate missiles beyond the intermediate range, and that the long-range missiles shown at parades are mock-ups. There were doubts about the authenticity of the KN-08 missiles displayed on 16-wheel carrier trucks during a 2012 military parade, and the Musudan missiles shown in 2010.
The testing in 2018 and 2019 of four new road-mobile, solid propellant propulsion, SRBMs marked a qualitative improvement in North Korean missiles. These have a reduced firing preparation signature making destruction before launch more difficult, and some have a flattened trajectory making in-flight interception more difficult. Japanese Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya stated "I believe that [North Korea’s] development of a missile that flies at a lower altitude than a conventional ballistic missile in an irregular trajectory is aimed at breaking through the [Japanese] missile defence system".
The Strategic Rocket Forces is a branch of the KPA, and is directly subordinate to the supreme commander.
- Musudan-ri is a rocket launching site in North Korea at 40°51′N, 129°40′E. It lies in southern North Hamgyong province, near the northern tip of the East Korea Bay. The area was formerly known as Taep'o-dong (대포동), from which the Taepodong rockets take their name.
- Kittaeryŏng site is located in Kangwon province, which borders South Korea. It is used for launches of short to medium-range missiles and has a pad for mobile launchers.
- Kalgol-dong site is located in Chagang province and houses Hwasong-5/6 missiles, targeting South Korea.
- Kusŏng site is located in North P'yongan province and houses Rodong missiles. It targets U.S. forces in Japan.
- Okp’yŏng-dong site is located in Kangwon province and houses Hwasong and Rodong missiles.
- Pongdong-ri site is located on North Korea's west coast, about 50 km south of the North Korean-Chinese border.
- Sakkanmol Missile Operating Base is a short-range ballistic missiles site located in North Hwanghae Province.
There are other numerous smaller sites, scattered around the country, serving for mobile launcher pads. Some larger sites are under construction.
- Silo-based launch:
- South Korean government sources are reported to have stated that a missile silo complex is located south of Paektu Mountain near the Chinese border. The silos are reportedly designed for mid- to long-range missiles, but it is not clear if all of them are operational.
- Launch pads:
- Launching pads are required for the more sophisticated Taepodong-1/2, as their liquid propellant is difficult to store and the missiles must be fueled immediately before launch. This launching method poses a great risk, as the sites themselves are extremely vulnerable to airstrikes. Launching pads can be used to test different types of SRBM, IRBM and ICBMs, and to launch space satellites, but they are of little value if any of these missiles is to be deployed as a strategic weapon.
- Mobile launcher vehicles:
- North Korea extensively uses mobile launchers for its missiles, including the Rodong-1 and the Hwasong-10. These are hard to detect and significantly improve survivability.
- Submarine/ship-based launch:
Detailed listings of the equipment holdings of the Korean People's Army are rather scarce in unclassified literature. North Korea operates the FROG-7, Hwasong-5 (Locally built Scud-B), Hwasong-6 (Locally built Scud-C), Hwasong-9 (a.k.a. Scud-ER) and Hwasong-7 (mislabeled as Rodong-1 ) The U.S. National Air and Space Intelligence Center reported in 2009 that the Rocket Forces had fewer than 100 launchers for Tochka and Hwasong-5/6 SRBMs, and fewer than 50 launchers for the Hwasong-7. Academic research in 2015 suggested North Korea had about 1,000 ballistic missiles: 600 Hwasong-series; 100 KN-02s; and 300 Hwasong-7s.
As of 2016, South Korea's military has identified three belts of North Korean missiles, with the first located about 50–90 km north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). This belt reportedly has 500-600 Scud missiles that have ranges of 300–700 km. It said the North has some 40 transporter erector launchers (TELs) in this belt, which makes the missiles harder to detect. In the second belt lying 90–120 km north of the DMZ, Pyongyang is known to have placed 200-300 No Dong (also called Rodong) medium-range missiles with a range of around 1,300 km with 30 TELs. In the third belt lying deeper inside the country, the North may have 30-50 Musudan (Hwasong-10) intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) and 30 TELs, with the latest reports indicating the deployment of the North's KN-08 long-range missiles.
As of 2017, North Korea is thought to possess about 900 short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs).
Rather speculative estimates are given in the following table:
|Hwasong-1||artillery rocket||< 50 km||24 launcher units|
|Hwasong-3||< 100 km|
|Hwasong-6||500 km||≈100 or 300–600|
|Hwasong-9||SRBM||1,000 km||small numbers Recently upgraded with new guidance and electronics.|
|Hwasong-10||IRBM||2,500–4,000 km||30-50 Successfully tested on 22 June 2016.|
|Hwasong-11||SRBM||≈70 km (500 kg payload) or 120–230+ km||Original variant is referred to as KN-02 and extended range variant as KN-10.|
|Hwasong-12||IRBM/ICBM||5000–6000 km||Successfully tested on 14 May 2017|
|Hwasong-13 KN08 KN14||2000 – 12000 km|
|Hwasong-14||ICBM||6,700-10,000 km||Successfully tested on 4 July 2017|
|Hwasong-15||ICBM||13,000 km||Successfully tested on 28 November 2017|
|KN-23||SRBM||240~700 km||Similar to 9K720 Iskander or Hyunmoo-2, tested in August 2017. In 2019 on May 4 and 9 tests of the missile were conducted.|
|KN-24||SRBM||400 km||Similar to MGM-140 ATACMS, tested in August 2019.|
|Pukkuksong-1||SLBM||1000 km||Successfully tested on 24 Aug 2016 with lofted trajectory with about 500 km and similar distance apogee.|
|Pukkuksong-2||MRBM||2000 km||Operational and deployed to northern border in missile bases where Hwasong-7 is deployed.|
|Pukkuksong-3 KN-28||SLBM||1900 km~2500 km|
|Kumsong-1 GeumSeong-1||anti-ship cruise missile||110–160 km – 180–300 km|
|Kumsong-1||110–160 km – 180–300 km|
|Kumsong-3 GeumSeong-3||Cruise-Missile||130–250 km||Successfully tested on 12 February 2017.|
North Korean missiles can serve to deliver various types of warheads, including WMD. It is possible that up to three Rodong-1 missiles are fitted with nuclear warheads. In a similar manner to the initial Chinese nuclear doctrine, nuclear weapons are being stored separately, and would only be mounted on missiles after an order of the supreme commander (Kim Jong-un). Despite the claims by numerous media that North Korea has not yet created nuclear warheads small enough to be fit in a missile, reports surfaced in April 2009, according to which North Korea has miniaturized warheads, capable of being mounted on its missiles. The most suitable nuclear weapons delivery system is the Rodong-1, which has been successfully tested many times.
Additionally, North Korea possesses a large chemical weapons stockpile, including powerful agents such as tabun, sarin, soman, VX gas and others. Little is known about the biological weapons stockpiles. They are probably limited, as North Koreans consider them much more dangerous to handle, therefore posing a threat to their own soldiers apart from the enemy.
North Korea has yet to demonstrate the ability to produce a re-entry vehicle, without which North Korea cannot deliver a weapon accurately from an ICBM. However a crude and highly-inaccurate blunt body reentry vehicle could be used in early missiles.
North Korea has been upgrading warheads for their Scud derived ballistic missiles with maneuverable reentry vehicle capability in order to increase accuracy and introduce capability of evasion of ballistic missile defence system's such as THAAD.
Several countries, including Egypt, Iran, Libya, Pakistan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Yemen, have bought North Korean ballistic missiles or components, or received assistance from North Korea to establish local missile production.
- "North Korean military takes oath of loyalty". Archived from the original on 2016-09-17.
- "Kim Jong-un Makes 1st Public Speech". Archived from the original on 2012-04-18.
- Pinkston, Daniel A. (February 2008). The North Korean Ballistic Missile Program (PDF). Strategic Studies Institute, US Army. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2014-08-26.
- Markus Schiller (2012). Characterizing the North Korean Nuclear Missile Threat (Report). RAND Corporation. ISBN 978-0-8330-7621-2. TR-1268-TSF. Archived from the original on 5 December 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
- Marcus, Jonathan (2012-04-27). "BBC News - New ICBM missiles at North Korea parade 'fake'". Bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2012-08-24. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
- "U.N. Report Suggest N. Korean Parade Missiles Possibly Fakes | Defense News". defensenews.com. 2012-10-05. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
- The Associated Press (2012-04-26). "North Korean missiles dismissed as fakes - World - CBC News". Cbc.ca. Archived from the original on 2012-06-15. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
- Dominguez, Gabriel (17 September 2019). Missile diplomacy: North Korea enhances tactical weapons as nuclear talks stall (PDF). Jane's Defence Weekly (Report). IHS. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
- Bermudez, Joseph; Cha, Victor; Collins, Lisa (November 12, 2018). "Undeclared North Korea: The Sakkanmol Missile Operating Base". Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Although occasionally and incorrectly referred to as an “underground missile storage” facility, it is a forward Hwasong-5/-6 missile operating base subordinate to the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), which is responsible for all ballistic missile units.
- "North digs silos for missiles in Mt. Paektu area". JoongAng daily. 10 October 2013. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
- Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. (28 October 2014). "North Korea: Test Stand for Vertical Launch of Sea-Based Ballistic Missiles Spotted". 38 North. U.S.-Korea Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Archived from the original on 4 November 2014. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "North Korea fires submarine-launched ballistic missile towards Japan". Reuters. Reuters. 24 Aug 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
- "Twitter". mobile.twitter.com. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
- Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat (PDF). National Air and Space Intelligence Center (Report). Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency. April 2009. NASIC-1031-0985-09. Archived (PDF) from the original on 3 February 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
- John Schilling, Henry (Long) Kan (2015). The Future of North Korean Nuclear Delivery Systems (PDF) (Report). US-Korea Institute at SAIS. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 April 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
- N. Korea has 100 KN-02 missiles with extended range Archived 2016-03-29 at the Wayback Machine - Yonhapnews.co.kr, 5 March 2014
- Around 70% of N.K. missiles target S. Korea Archived 2016-03-15 at the Wayback Machine - Koreaherald.com, 4 March 2013
- "Yonhapnews Agency - Mobile". m.yna.co.kr. Retrieved 2017-10-31.
- Bermudez, Joseph S. (1999). "A History of Ballistic Missile Development in the DPRK: Longer Range Designs, 1989-Present". James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. Archived from the original on 2010-04-07. Retrieved 2008-02-14. Cite journal requires
- "South Korea's military to increase number of Hyunmoo missiles, says report - Jane's 360". www.janes.com. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
- "Real Name! — NEAMS". www.neams.ru. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
- "Facts about North Korea's Musudan missile". AFP. GlobalPost. 8 April 2013. Archived from the original on 9 April 2013. Retrieved 10 April 2013.
- North Korea to Deploy New Missile, U.S. Says Archived 2008-11-20 at the Wayback Machine, NTI.org, July 9, 2007
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-06-22. Retrieved 2017-06-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-05-17. Retrieved 2017-07-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "US believes North Korea launched KN-17 missile". ABC News. 2017-05-15. Archived from the original on 2017-05-15. Retrieved 2017-05-15.
- "North Korea hails 'ICBM test' success". BBC News. 2017-07-04. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
- "North Korea Appears to Launch Missile with 6,700 km Range". 3 July 2017.
- "N. Korea likely to have operational ICBM capable of striking U.S. West Coast next year or two: U.S. expert".
- Diplomat, Ankit Panda, The. "Why Is Russia Denying That North Korea Launched an ICBM?". Retrieved 18 August 2017.
- Lewis, Jeffrey (10 July 2017). "That's more or less our range estimate too -- 7,000-10,000 km.https://twitter.com/nktpnd/status/884502134552657920 …". Retrieved 18 August 2017. External link in
- "What is True and Not True About North Korea's Hwasong-14 ICBM: A Technical Evaluation - 38 North: Informed Analysis of North Korea". 10 July 2017. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
- "Arms Control Wonk : North Korea's ICBM: Hwasong-14". armscontrolwonk.libsyn.com. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
- "Arms Control Wonk : North Korea's New Missiles". www.armscontrolwonk.libsyn.com. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
- "North Korean ICBM Appears Able to Reach Major US Cities". Retrieved 18 August 2017.
- Julian Ryall, Tokyo. "North Korea's 'game changing' new missile is more stable, more efficient -and harder to detect". Telegraph.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2017-02-14. Retrieved 2017-02-13.
- KN-01 Anti-Ship Cruise Missile Archived 2009-06-17 at the Wayback Machine, globalsecurity.org
- North Korea test-fires short-range barrage , AP, July 2, 2009
- North Korea fires four missiles, Jerusalem Post, July 2, 2009
- North Korea Missile Chronology 2008/9 Archived 2008-10-14 at the Wayback Machine, NTI.org
- N.Korea Extends Range of Anti-Ship Missiles Archived 2013-12-29 at the Wayback Machine – Chosun.com, 22 November 2013
- "Kumsong-3 (Kh-35 Variant) - Missile Threat". csis.org. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
- Sang-hun, Choe; Sanger, David E. (13 February 2017). "North Korea Claims Progress on Long-Range Goal With Missile Test". Archived from the original on 15 February 2017 – via NYTimes.com.
- "The North Korean Plutonium Stock Mid-2006" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-10-17. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
- "North Korea is fully fledged nuclear power, experts agree". The Times. London. April 24, 2009. Archived from the original on May 25, 2010. Retrieved 2009-04-25.
- Military and Security Developments Involving the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (PDF) (Report). U.S. Department of Defense. 2012. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 June 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
- "IISS report". Iiss.org. Archived from the original on March 2, 2012. Retrieved March 1, 2012.
- Ravi Shekhar Narain Singh (2005). Asian Strategic And Military Perspective. Lancer Publishers. ISBN 817062245X. Archived from the original on January 2, 2016.
- Reuters - A look at North Korea's missile arsenal
- Bermudez, Joseph S. (2001). Shield of the Great Leader. The Armed Forces of North Korea, The Armed Forces of Asia. Sydney: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1864485825.
- Homer T. Hodge, North Korea's Military Strategy, Parameters (journal), Spring 2003, pp. 68–81
- The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) (2007). The Military Balance 2007. Abingdon: Routledge Journals. ISBN 9781857434378.
- Bermudez, Joseph S. (1999). "A History of Ballistic Missile Development in the DPRK: First Ballistic Missiles, 1979-1989".
- James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.
- Zaloga, Steven; Illustrated by Jim Laurier and Lee Ray (2006). Scud Ballistic Missile Launch Systems 1955-2005. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-947-9.
- Markus Schiller (2012). Characterizing the North Korean Nuclear Missile Threat (Report). RAND Corporation. ISBN 978-0-8330-7621-2. TR-1268-TSF. Retrieved 19 January 2013.