The Hwasong-6 is the North Korean variant of the Russian ‘Scud C’ and is a short-range, road-mobile, liquid propellant ballistic missile. The missile represents a substantial range increase over the Hwasong-5 (‘Scud B’ variant).
Hwasong-6 at a Glance
Originated From: North Korea
Possessed By: North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Vietnam, Yemen
Class: Short-Range Ballistic Missile (SRBM)
Length: 10.94 m
Diameter: 0.88 m
Launch Weight: 6,095 kg
Payload: Single warhead, 700-770 kg
Warhead: HE, chemical, biological, submunitions
Propulsion: Single-stage liquid propellant
Range: 500 km
In Service: 1992
The Hwasong-6 has a range of 500 km from its single-stage liquid propellant engine. Its dimensions are the same as its predecessor, with 10.94 m in length and 0.88 m in diameter. However, it has a slightly heavier launch weight of 6,095 kg and it has a reduced payload size of 700-770 kg compared to the Hwasong-5’s 985 kg. The warhead can be chemical, HE, or submunitions. The accuracy is estimated to be 1,000 m CEP.1
Reports indicate that development of the missile began around 1984, with initial production in starting in 1989, and reached peak production rate in the early 1990’s. It is estimated by analysts that North Korea was producing approximately 50 to 100 missiles per year during this time period.2 It is likely that production is no longer underway. North Korea’s Hwasong-6 inventory isn’t precisely known, however, reports of its size range from 200-400 missiles. 3 A 2006 report estimated the total number of Hwasong-5/6/7 missiles around 600.4 Similar to the Hwasong-5 missile, the Hwasong-6 has been highly proliferated. According to various reports, it is possible that up to 400 Hwasong-6 missiles may have been exported to Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Vietnam and Yemen. These reports include:
- Iran is reported to have purchased 60 missiles in 1991. Iran eventually reached the ability to indigenously produce ‘Scud C’ variants — known in Iran as the Shahab 2.
- Libya reportedly bought Hwasong-6 missiles in 1993. In 2004, Libya sent five of these missiles with two MAZ 543 TELs to the U.S.
- Syria began receiving Hwasong-6 missiles from North Korea in 1991 and from Libya starting in 1993. The Syrians later reached production capability of the ‘Scud C’ variant.
- Egypt allegedly received Hwasong-6 related technology and components, not the missiles themselves, in the late 1990s
- Vietnam reportedly ordered a few Hwasong-6 missiles from North Korea in 1998-1999. It is unclear if this deal was fulfilled.
- Iraq was allegedly attracted to the Hwasong-6 missiles in 2001, hoping to purchase around 200 missiles. It is also unclear if this deal was fulfilled.
- Yemen may have received up to 25 Hwasong-6 missiles in 2002 5
Many flight tests of North Korea’s Scuds have occurred since their productions began. Noteworthy launches occurred in 2006, 2009, and 2014 but the subtle differences between the country’s variants makes confirmation of the exact missile used for each launch difficult to decipher.