The Hyunmoo-2A is a short-range, solid-fueled ballistic missile developed and deployed by South Korea. The Hyunmoo-2A, 2B, and 2C missiles are critical elements in South Korea’s ‘Kill Chain’ (preemptive strike) and ‘Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation,’ or KMPR, (retaliatory strike) defense strategies. The Hyunmoo-2A has a range of 300 km.
Hyunmoo-2A at a Glance
Originated from: South Korea
Possessed by: South Korea
Alternative names: NHK-2 PIP A, NHK-2A, NHK-2 Block A
Class: Short-Range Ballistic Missile (SRBM)
Length: >12 m
Diameter: 0.9 m
Launch weight: 5,400 kg
Payload: Unitary warhead, 997 kg
Warhead: High explosive (HE), submunitions
Propulsion: Two-stage solid propellant
Range: 300 km
In service: 2008-present
Starting in the mid- to late-1990s, South Korea reportedly began to develop a modified NHK-2, designated NHK-2 PIP A. More commonly known as Hyunmoo-2A, the missile system was developed by the state-run Agency for Defense Development (ADD).1
ADD first flight-tested the Hyunmoo-2A in April 1999. During the test, the missile flew 40 km, although it reportedly had a maximum range of 250 km at the time.2 This raised some alarm in the United States, as the 1979 US-ROK “Memorandum of Agreement” in place at the time limited South Korean missile ranges to a maximum of 180 km. The Hyunmoo-2A, however, only entered service in 2008 – after ROK missile range restrictions rose to 300 km.3
Alternative spellings of Hyunmoo include: Hyonmoo, Hyonmu, Hyon Mu, and Hyunmu. It is the name of one of the four symbols of the traditional Chinese constellations, representing the north and winter, and usually depicted as a snaked wrapped around a turtle. ‘Hyunmoo’ directly translates to “black warrior.”4
Similarities to Russian 9k720 Iskander-M System
Several reports note that the Hyunmoo-2A and 2B variants appear similar to the Russian 9k720 Iskander-M missile.5 Given that South Korea and Russia have worked together in the past on ROK rocket and missile programs, it is possible that Russia provided some technical support during the Hyunmoo-2A and 2B development process.6 One analyst noted, however, that the Hyunmoo-2A and 2B design are also similar to that of Israel’s LORA and the United States’ ATACMS.7 Its design similarities to the Iskander, as such, may instead be due to capability requirements rather than imitation.
The Hyunmoo-2A has a length of over 12 m, diameter of 0.9 m, and launch weight of approximately 5,400 kg.8 The missile is solid-fueled and two-staged.9 It has a range of 300 km while carrying a 997 kg warhead.10 It has a reported accuracy of 30 m circular error probable (CEP).11
The missile entered operational service in 2008. It replaced the NHK-2, which has since been stored in a reserve force.12
The South Korean military test fired two Hyunmoo-2A missiles on July 5, 2017, following a DPRK Hwasong-14 ICBM test the previous day.13
On September 4, 2017, the ROK military conducted two live-fire exercises following North Korea’s nuclear test the previous day. The first exercise included Hyunmoo-2A strikes simulating an attack on North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site.14
On September 15, 2017, South Korea test fired two Hyunmoo-2A missiles just six minutes after the DPRK fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) over Japan. According to an official from South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, one of the missiles precisely hit a simulated target 250 km away in the East Sea, while the other failed shortly after launch. The range of the launches were intended to simulate the distance to strike the launch site of the North Korean missile.15
- “Nike-Hercules variant (NHK-1/2 or Hyon Mu 1 and 2,” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, ed. James C. O’Halloran (United Kingdom: IHS, 2015), 68-69.
- Zachary Keck, “North Korea Isn’t the Only Korea with Killer Missiles,” The National Interest, July 8, 2017, http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/north-korea-isnt-the-only-korea-killer-missiles-21469.
- Kim Minseok & Bradley Perrett, “Seoul’s Latest Ballistic Missile Close To Deployment,” Aviation Week, July 19, 2017, http://m.aviationweek.com/defense/seoul-s-latest-ballistic-missile-close-deployment.
- Andrew Logie, “The Answers: North Korea: How do you solve a problem like North Korea?,” (Marshall Cavendish International Asia: Singapore, September 2012), 188, https://books.google.com/books?id=6e2IAAAAQBAJ&pg=PA188&dq=Hyunmoo&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi5npra0onVAhUJyj4KHbZWB1sQ6AEIMjAC%20-%20v=onepage&q=Hyunmoo&f=false#v=snippet&q=Hyunmoo&f=false.
- Tamir Eshel, “Hyunmoo Missiles – Seoul Going Ballistic,” Defense Update, April 22, 2012, http://defense-update.com/20120422_new_hyunmoo_korean_missiles.html; Keck
- The Hyunmoo-2C: South Korea’s 800km Missile, Arms Control Wonk Podcast, June 30, 2017, http://armscontrolwonk.libsyn.com/the-hyunmoo-2c-south-koreas-800km-missile.
- “Design Characteristics of South Korea’s Ballistic and Cruise Missiles,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, November 2014, http://www.nti.org/media/pdfs/design_characteristics_of_south_korea_missiles.pdf?_=1415661529; Minseok & Perrett.
- Franz Stefan Gady, “South Korea Test Fires New Ballistic Missile,” The Diplomat, April 7, 2017, http://thediplomat.com/2017/04/south-korea-test-fires-new-ballistic-missile/.
- Lee Yong-soo, “S.Korea, U.S. Flex Muscles After N.Korean Missile Launch,” Chosun Ilbo, July 6, 2017, http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2017/07/06/2017070600997.html.
- Minseok & Perrett; NTI.
- Chosun Ilbo, “S.Korea, U.S. Flex Muscles After N.Korean Missile Launch.”
- Missile Defense Project, “South Korea Conducts Live-Fire Drills and US Eases Missile Restrictions,” Missile Threat, September 7, 2017, https://missilethreat.csis.org/south-korea-conducts-live-fire-drills-us-eases-missile-restrictions/.
- Missile Defense Project, “North Korea Fires Another Missile Over Japan,” Missile Threat, September 15, 2017, https://missilethreat.csis.org/north-korea-fires-second-missile-japan/.