The KN-06 (Pon’gae-5) is an indigenously produced North Korean surface-to-air missile defense system designed to shoot down aircraft. North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un declared the system operationally capable following a test on May 28, 2017.
KN-06 at a Glance
Originated From: North Korea
Possessed by: North Korea
Alternate Names: Pon’gae-5
Basing: Road-mobile, Transporter Erector Launcher
Length: 6.8-7.25 m
Diameter: 0.45-0.50 m
Propulsion: Solid propellant
Warhead: Conventional, blast fragmentary
In Service: May 28, 2017
North Korea (DPRK) began attempts to obtain a more advanced surface-to-air missile (SAM) defense system during the early 2000s, to improve its existing fleet of ageing S-200 and FLAK gun systems.1 Although the country was reportedly unable to purchase a fourth-generation SAM such as the Chinese HQ-9/FT-2000 or the Russian S-300 in the first half of the decade, the DPRK had procured advanced SAM technology by the decade’s end, first displaying the KN-06 during a military parade on October 10, 2010.2
It is unclear exactly how North Korea acquired the requisite technology for the KN-06. Yet since it appeared, as one analyst noted, “seemingly out of thin air,” many suspect the technology was secretly supplied to North Korea by either China or Russia.3 To support this claim, analysts have highlighted numerous similarities between the KN-06, the Chinese HQ-9/FT-2000, and Russian S-300P SAM. These include the interceptor’s bi-conic nose, four guidance fins, and “Flap Lid” phased array radar system.4
Additionally, North Korea likely built the Taepaeksan-96 truck chassis that carries the missile’s transporter erector launcher (TEL) in collaboration with the Russian truck manufacturing company KAMAZ.5 The Russian company entered a joint production endeavor with North Korea in 2007, launching a plant in the North Korean city of Pyeongseong.6
The system’s “cold-launch” firing mechanism is also cited as evidence of foreign assistance in development. Rather than igniting the rocket’s motor in the launch canister for vertical lift, a cold-launch uses compressed gas to propel the missile out of the launcher before its own engines ignite. The KN-06 launch tube is similar in size to the Chinese HQ-16A SAM, which also is cold-launched.7 Cold-launch technology is deployed in the DPRK’s KN-11 submarine launched ballistic missile and its land-based variant, the KN-15.8
There have been three known test launches of the KN-06 since the system was first unveiled in 2010. In June 2011, South Korean news outlet Chosun Ilbo reported a successful test of a short-range missile, believed to be the KN-06, that flew 150 km before landing in the sea off North Korea’s western coast.9
Images of a second test attended by Kim Jong-un were released by the North Korean state-run news KCNA on April 2, 2016. Following a third test on May 28, 2017, Kim Jong-un declared that the missile had become operationally capable after “perfectly overcoming” several defects identified in previous tests.10
The KN-06, also known as the Pon’gae-5, is a road-mobile surface-to-air missile system. Based on the system’s similarities with the Russian S-300 and Chinese HQ-9/FT-2000, the KN-06 interceptor likely measures between 6.8 and 7.25 m in length, is .466 to .514 m in diameter, and weighs approximately 1300 to 1700 kg.11 South Korean media reports and the KN-06’s resemblance to the Russian S-300 could indicate a range of up to 150 km, which seems to be supported by the system’s performance in tests.
The KN-06 is transported on the Taepaekasan-96 6X6 truck chassis (KAZAM 55111), which carries the system’s TEL. The KN-06 TEL has been pictured with both two and three launch canisters.12 Two trucks are used to transport the system; one for the TEL launch canisters and another for the system’s 5N63 “Flap Lid” X-band phased array radar system.13 The Flap Lid radar accompanying the KN-06 appears to be an indigenous version of the phased array radar Russia used in its first generation S-300P SAM systems.14
Based on the number of assembly kits sent to North Korea by KAMAZ, North Korea could have as many as 156 KN-06 TELs.15 If the North Korea variant is deployed like early versions of the S-300 or HQ-9, a battery likely consists of one command post, one Flap Lid radar, and three to four TELs. The KN-06 augments North Korea’s other air defense like the SA-2/3/5 SAM systems and man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS).16
Kim Jong-un declared the KN-06 operational on May 28, 2017. One analyst suspects that the system may be deployed on several man-made islands surrounding the missile development and testing site in Sohae.17
- “NAPSNet Daily Report 07 February, 2001”, Daily Report NAPSNet, February 07, 2001, https://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-daily-report/napsnet-daily-report-07-february-2001/.
- Ankit Panda, “North Korea Declares KN-06 Surface-to-Air Missile Operational After Successful Test,” The Diplomat, May 29, 2017, http://thediplomat.com/2017/05/north-korea-declares-kn-06-surface-to-air-missile-system-operational-after-successful-test/.
- Kyle Mizokami, “A North Korean Mystery: Where Did its Rockets and Missiles Come From?” The National Interest, June 17, 2017, http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/north-korean-mystery-where-did-its-rockets-missiles-come-21202.
- Richard D. Fisher, “North Korea KN-06 test confirms similarity to Chinese and Russian fourth-generation SAMS,” IHS Jane’s 360, April 6, 2016, Web Archive, https://web.archive.org/web/20160415190435/http://www.janes.com/article/59282/north-korean-kn-06-test-confirms-similarity-to-chinese-and-russian-fourth-generation-sams.
- Elizabeth Shim, “Russian-built trucks replicated for North Korea parade,” United Press International, April 19, 2017, https://www.upi.com/Russia-built-trucks-replicated-for-North-Korea-parade/1841492654916/.
- Fisher 2016.
- Richard D. Fisher, “U.S., South Korean Sources Suggest North Has SLBM Ambitions,” IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, September 22, 2014, https://fortunascorner.com/2014/09/24/u-s-south-korea-sources-say-north-korea-has-slbm-ambitions/.
- “KN-15 (Pukkuksong-2),” Missile Threat, last updated March 3, 2017, https://missilethreat.csis.org/missile/pukkuksong-2/.
- “North Korea Successfully Test-Fired Short Range Missile,” Chosun Ilbo, June 14, 2011, http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2011/06/14/2011061400518.html.
- Tyler Rogoway, “North Korea says KN 06 SAM System Ready for Production After Successful Test,” The Drive, May 28, 2017, http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/10761/north-korea-says-kn-06-sam-system-ready-for-production-after-successful-test.
- “S300P” in IHS Jane’s Land Warfare Platforms: Artillery and Air Defense 2012-2013, ed. Christopher Foss and James C. O’Halloran (IHS: United Kingdom, 2012), 511; “HQ-9/FT-2000,” in IHS Jane’s Land Warfare Platforms: Artillery and Air Defense 2012-2013, ed. Christopher Foss and James C. O’Halloran (IHS: United Kingdom, 2012), 428.
- Chosun Ilbo.
- Fisher, 2016.
- Office of the Secretary to Defense, Military and Security Developments Involving the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 2012, https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/Report_to_Congress_on_Military_and_Security_Developments_Involving_the_DPRK.pdf.
- Damen Cook, “North Korea’s Mysterious New Islands,” The Diplomat, May 1, 2017, http://thediplomat.com/2017/05/north-koreas-mysterious-new-islands/.