Pukkuksong-2 (Korean: 북극성2형 北極星2号 , Polaris 2) 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.

TypeMedium-range ballistic missile
Place of originNorth Korea
Service history
In service2017
Used byNorth Korea
Production history
ManufacturerNorth Korea
Length~9 m
Diameter~1.4 m
Warheadnuclear, conventional

EngineSolid fuel rocket
1,200 km ~ 2,000 km (est)
8×8 tracked TEL
Revised RomanizationBukgeukseong i-hyeong
McCune–ReischauerPukkŭksŏng i-hyŏng

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]

Deployed in northern North Korea near border with China in missile bases where Hwasong-7 is deployed.[6]


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.[7] 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.[8]

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
1 11 February 2017, about 8:00am Pyongyang Standard Time[9] North Pyongan None Success The 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.[9]

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.[10]

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.[9]

2 21 May 2017, about 4:29pm Pyongyang Standard Time Lake Yonpung, Pukchang County[11] None Success On May 21, another successful missile test occurred, following the same lofted trajectory, with identical range and apogee.[12] 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.[13] The launch site was geolocated to 39.6180283°N 125.8035851°E / 39.6180283; 125.8035851.[11]

See also


  1. Sang-Hun, Choe (4 April 2017). "North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile a Day Before U.S.-China Summit". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  2. Schilling, John (13 February 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 23 February 2017. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  3. World. "North Korea says test of new nuclear-capable Pukguksong-2 missile a success". Smh.com.au. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  4. Julian Ryall, Tokyo. "North Korea's 'game changing' new missile is more stable, more efficient -and harder to detect". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  5. Chose, Sang-hun; Sanger, David E. (13 February 2017). "North Korea Claims Progress on Long-Range Goal With Missile Test". The New York Times. USA. Archived from the original on 18 February 2017. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  6. https://undocs.org/en/S/2019/691
  7. "North says its missile was 'absolute success'-INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily". Koreajoongangdaily.joins.com. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  8. Andrea Berger; Joshua Pollack (13 February 2017). "North Korea missile test: What's changed?". BBC News Online.
  9. "North Korea fires ballistic missile, first since Trump elected in U.S."
  10. Kim Jong Un hints at North Korea test of intercontinental ballistic missile, CBS News - January 1, 2017, 8:06 AM
  11. 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
  12. "N. Korea declares latest ballistic missile launch a success". RT International. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  13. Ji, Dagyum. "N. Korea announces Pukguksong-2 launch, says missile can now be "mass-produced"". NK News. Retrieved 22 May 2017.

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