Pukguksong-1 (KN-11)

The Pukguksong-1 (KN-11, 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 Its commonality with the R-27 makes it also similar is some ways to North Korea’s Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile. 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.

Pukguksong-1 At a Glance

Originated From: North Korea
Possessed By: North Korea
Alternate Names: Pukkuksong-1, Bukgeukseong-1, KN-11
Class: Submarine-launched ballistic missile
Basing: Submarine-launched
Length: 9 m
Diameter: 1.5 m
Propulsion: Two-stage, solid propellant
Range: 1,200 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 plumes indicative of a solid-fueled motor. 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.”3. The range and apogee of this flight test indicate that the missile’s range is approximately 1,200 km.4 Given these advancements, estimates are that the missile could become fully operational in 2020.

See all North Korean launches
Date Number Launched Notes
August 24, 2016 1 Distance traveled: 500 km.
July 9, 2016 1 Failed soon after launch.
April 23, 2016 1 Distance traveled: 30 km.
December 21, 2015 1 Failed.
November 28, 2015 1 Failed to launch.
May 9, 2015 1


In February, 2017, North Korea tested an apparent land-based variant of the KN-11, dubbed Pukguksong-2.

    1. 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/
    2. Jeffrey Lewis, “DPRK SLBM Test,” Arms Control Wonk, May 13, 2015, http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/207631/dprk-slbm-test/
    3. 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
    4. David Wright “Range of the North Korean KN-11 Sub-Launched Missile,” Union of Concerned Scientists, August 30, 2016, http://allthingsnuclear.org/dwright/range-of-the-north-korean-kn-11-sub-launched-missile.