KN-24 [Hwasong-11] Tactical Missile System
On 10 August 2019 North Korea fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast. The missiles were launched near the northeastern city of Hamhung and flew 400 kilometers (250 miles), reaching a maximum speed being more than Mach 6.1. and a maximum altitude of 48 kilometers (30 miles) before falling into the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. The North had conducted five missile tests within the past two weeks in response to joint US-South Korean military drills that began this week.
The demonstrated 400 km range would enable the missile to reach most targets in South Korea if fired from North Korean sites near the DMZ. North Korea said on 11 August 2019 that it test fired a "new weapon" the previous day under the supervision of leader Kim Jong-un. The North's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said that Kim oversaw the test firing of a new weapon launched from the northeastern Hamgung area. The KCNA said that after receiving a report about a new weapon system, Kim "gave an instruction to test it immediately" and "expressed great satisfaction" after watching the launch. The KCNA report did not specify what the new weapon was, but said they were developed to suit the North's "terrain condition" and provide "advantageous tactical character different from existing weapons systems." The report did not give further details about the new weapon.
The North's new missile seemed to have a launcher similar to the South's Hyunmoo-2A which has a range of 300 kilometers and the Hyunmoo-2B with a longer range of 500 kilometers. The North's launcher has two cells while the South's Hyunmoo-2A and 2B launcher has one cell. South Korea's KTSSM - similar to the US ATACMS and the North's new weapon - under development by the South's Agency for Defense Development (ADD), is expected to be deployed by 2020.
Such a solid fuelfired from transporter erector launchers (TELs) have rather short launch preparation times and a greater diversity of garrison and launch the sites, relative to larger liquid propellant missiles capable of reacting the United States. They could frustrate the South Korea-US Kill Chain pre-emptive strike system.
The European Union condemned the North's latest missile test, saying it undermined global efforts to achieve peace on the peninsula. "We expect the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] to refrain from any further provocations, abide by its stated commitments, and fully implement its international obligations as determined by multiple United Nations Security Council Resolutions," the EU said in a statement. Hours after the North's launches, Trump tweeted that Kim spent much of a letter he wrote to the president complaining about "the ridiculous and expensive" US-South Korea military exercises. He said that Kim offered him "a small apology" for the recent flurry of missile tests, and that he assured him they would stop when the exercises end.
North Korean state media released a separate statement by a senior official, saying Trump accepts the North's having short-range missiles and carrying out tests. In the statement, Kwon Jong Gun, Director-General of the foreign ministry's department of American affairs, says "even the US president in effect recognizes the self-defensive rights of a sovereign state, saying that it is a small missile test which a lot of countries do."
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea fired what it presumes to be two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea at around 8:01 and 8:16 the morning of 16 August 2019. They were fired from North Korea's eastern coastal county of Tongcheon in the North's Kangwon-do Province, recording a maximum altitude of some 30 kilometers, with a flight distance of some 230 kilometers and maximum speed of more than Mach 6.1 which is some 7,500 kilometers per hour. North Korea had been firing a new type of short-range ballistic missile recently. The missiles were fired off Tongchon county, North Korea's eastern coastal county that's located only 50 kilometers North of the Military Demarcation Line - a quite rare launch location. This is North Korea's sixth missile launch in three weeks, and the eighth this year alone.
North Korean leader Kim Jong was present at the weapons test, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency. “The development of the weapon system serves as an event of very weighty significance in increasing the combat power of the People’s Army,” he reportedly said. Kim, Dong-yeop, a research professor at the Kyungnam University Institute for Far East Studies in South Korea posted "It seems like North Korea is strengthening selective conventional weapons and have intentions to hold conventional deterrence to protect the state."
North Korea later released photos of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspecting the launch site. The Korean Central News Agency said new achievements have been made to strengthen national defense that could be significant milestones in its weapons development. KCNA did not provide other details of the weapon, but military sources say the weapon seemed to resemble the U.S. Army's surface-to-surface missile system ATACMS, similar to the one the North fired 10 August 2019.
Bu the trajectory of the test of the new NORKOR-ATACMS flew a tranjectory similar the the 300-mm artillery rockets fired on 02 August 2019 from Youngheung in Hamgyongnam-do Province near North Korea's eastern city of Wonsan. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said these projectiles reached an altitude of around 25 kilometers and flew some 220 kilometers recording a maximum flight speed of Mach 6.9, that's around 8,500 hundred kilometers an hour.
North Korea's Central News Agency said its leader Kim Jong-un personally oversaw the 21 March 2020 test-firings what it said was a newly developed tactical guided weapon, which often means short-range ballistic missiles. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed that two projectiles -- thought to be such missiles -- were detected early in the morning, launched from Pyonganbuk-do Province towards the East Sea. The projectiles flew about 410 kilometers reaching an altitude of 50 kilometers. Given the flight pattern of pull-up, observers say the projectiles probably could be a KN-24, the North Korean version of the US Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) [apparently confirmed by DPRK], or possibly a version of Russia's Iskander ballistic missile known as the KN-23. An official from the South Korean government said authorities were analyzing the specifications with various possibilities in mind. The interval between the first and second shots is 5 minutes. The military judged that it is more like a range measurement test that falls through the inland from Pyeongbuk's incheon to the East Sea rather than a continuous launch performance test.
The “demonstration fire” of this weapon was personally ordered by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to show the “tactical characters and power of a new weapon system to be delivered to [Korean Peoples’ Army] units,” read an English-language report from the regime’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). Kim stressed the new weapons the regime had developed and tested recently were designed to “make a radical change in the national defense strategy,” KCNA said. “We must further build up the striking capability which can wipe out any enemy out of our territory if it dare designs to launch a military action against our state […] the most perfect strategy for national defence and most trustworthy war deterrent,” Kim added.
The missiles launched on 17 January 2022 were KN-24s, whose official designation was revealed as “Hwasong-11Na” during the 2021 weapon exhibition in Pyongyang. “Na" is the second letter in the Korean alphabet.
Multiple UN Security Council resolutions ban North Korea from testing ballistic missiles, whether short, medium or long-range.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|