Hwasong-5 (‘Scud B’ Variant)

The Hwasong-5 is a short-range, road-mobile, liquid propellant ballistic missile. It is the North Korean variant of the Russian built ‘Scud B,’ R-17E’s, which were purchased from Egypt and reverse engineered.1 The Hwasong-5 made improvements to the airframe, motor and guidance. It can be launched from a North Korean built copy of the Russian MAZ 543 ‘Scud B’ Transporter-Erector-Launcher (TEL) vehicle or from converted commercial trucks.

Hwasong-5 at a Glance

Originated From: North Korea
Possessed By: Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Yemen
Class: Short-Range Ballistic Missile (SRBM)
Basing: Road-mobile
Length: 10.94 m
Diameter: 0.88 m
Launch Weight: 5,860 kg
Payload: Single warhead
Warhead: 985 kg HE, chemical, biological, submunitions
Propulsion: Single-stage liquid propellant
Range: 300 km
Status: Operational
In Service: 1986

Hwasong-5The warheads on the North Korean Hwasong-5 are probably HE, but it is also possible they can be fitted with chemical and biological weapons. The relatively short-range of the Scud design makes it unlikely that North Korea will equip it with a nuclear warhead; however, the design is fully compatible for such an addition. These systems are road mobile and well hidden in the mountainous terrain of North Korea. These missiles can easily reach one of North Korea’s potentially main targets, Seoul, South Korea. As their limited accuracy restricts their use to targeting civilian population centers, this is likely to be the extent of their deployment.

The North Korean Hwasong-5 has a length of 10.94 m, a diameter of 0.88 m, and a launch weight of 5,860 kg. Its payload carries a single warhead that can either be 985 kg HE, chemical, biological or submunitions. It has a range of 300 km (186 miles) with an accuracy of 450 m CEP. It uses a single-stage liquid propellant engine.2

Development on the Hwasong-5 started in 1981 with the importation of Russian ‘Scud B’ missiles from Egypt, with flight testing beginning in 1984. North Korea’s testing of Scuds has continued for years, but with very little distinguishing features between North Korea’s variants, the exact missiles launched each time are not precisely known. It entered active service in 1986. The North Koreans have built an estimated total of 300 Hwasong-5 missiles as well as several mobile launch systems, ending production in 1991 or 1992.3 A 2006 report estimated the total number of Hwasong-5/6/7 missiles around 600.4

North Korea has been one of the primary nations for missile proliferation and it is believed that it has exported or planned to export Hwasong-5 to Republic of Congo, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Myanmar, Syria, UAE, Vietnam, and Yemen. Specifically, reports indicate that there were some 120 Hwasong-5 missiles and several mobile launchers exported to Iran, as well as the setup of a manufacturing facility.5 Iran’s Scud B variant is known as the Shahab-1.

    1. Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., “A History of Ballistic Missile Development in the DPRK,” Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies, 1999, http://cns.miis.edu/opapers/op2/op2.pdf
    2. “Scud B’ variant (Hwasong 5),” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, ed. James C. O’Halloran (United Kingdom: IHS, 2015), 61.
    3. Ibid.
    4. “CNS Special Report on North Korean Ballistic Missile Capabilities,” Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies, March 22, 2006, http://nautilus.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/0623.pdf.
    5. Jane’s Strategic, 61.