The KN-11 (Pukkuksong-1, Bukgeukseong-1) is a North Korean submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). Reports indicate that the missile appears to be similar to the former Soviet Union R-27/SS-N-6 Serb SLBM.1 North Korea’s Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile also shares a number of characteristics with the Serb. It does not, however, mean the KN-11 is an exact replica of the Serb. North Korea has conducted five full flight tests of the KN-11, as well as numerous other tests of the missile’s ejection system and other subsystems.
KN-11 At a Glance
Originated From: North Korea
Possessed By: North Korea
Alternate Names: Pukkuksong-1, Bukgeukseong-1
Class: Submarine-launched ballistic missile
Length: 9 m
Diameter: 1.5 m
Propulsion: Two-stage, solid propellant
Range: 900 km
Status: In Development
Concrete dimensions of the missile are unknown, but analysis points to the KN-11 being roughly 9 m long, 1.5 m in diameter. It is a two-stage missile and was originally equipped with a liquid-propellant design, but after repeated launch failures, North Korea adopted a solid-propellant design. Tests of the KN-11 SLBM reportedly began in December 2014. Images of the missile first emerged following a test in May 2015, in which North Korean media publications hailed the SLBM launch as a success. Following the public display and imagery dissemination, analysts came to the conclusion that while the launch did occur from a submerged position in the water, it was not from a ballistic missile submarine, but rather a submersible barge.2
The solid fuel outfitting was first displayed in a test on April 23, 2016, which showed exhaust fumes that are representative of a solid motor. It is expected that the switch to a solid-propellant will reduce the KN-11’s range to approximately 900 km.3 Even with the decreased range, South Korea and parts of Japan are still within striking distance. In an August 24, 2016 test, the KN-11 flew 500 km and into Japan’s air identification zone, “indicating technical improvements compared to previous tests.”4. Given these advancements, estimates are that the missile could become fully operational in 2020.
In February, 2017, North Korea tested an apparent land-based variant of the KN-11, dubbed Pukkuksong-2.
- Markus Schiller, Robert H. Schumaker and J. James Kim, “Not Much Below the Surface? North Korea’s Nuclear Program and the New SLBM,” Federation of American Scientists, Summer/Fall 2015, Volume 68, Number 3, https://fas.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/SchillerSchmuckerKim_Notmuchbelowthesurface.pdf; Michael Elleman, “From Under the Sea: North Korea’s Latest Missile Test,” 38 North, June 3, 2015, http://38north.org/2015/06/melleman060315/ ↩
- Jeffrey Lewis, “DPRK SLBM Test,” Arms Control Wonk, May 13, 2015, http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/207631/dprk-slbm-test/ ↩
- John Schilling, “A New Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile for North Korea,” 38 North, April 25, 2016, http://38north.org/2016/04/jschilling042516/. ↩
- Julian Ryall, Gabriel Dominguez and Neil Gibson, “North Korea releases footage of SLBM launch,” IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, August 25, 2016, http://www.janes.com/article/63229/north-korea-releases-footage-of-slbm-launch ↩