Pukguksong-1 (KN-11)

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The Pukguksong-1 (Korean: Polaris-1, US designation: KN-11) is a two-stage, solid-fueled North Korean submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). The missile bears an external resemblance to the Soviet-designed R-27/SS-N-6 Serb SLBM.1 North Korea has conducted five flight tests of the KN-11, and well as numerous other tests of the missile’s ejection system and other subsystems.

Pukguksong-1 (KN-11) at a Glance

Originated from
North Korea
Alternate names
KN-11, Pukkuksong-11, Bukgeukseong-1
Possessed by
North Korea
Submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM)
9 m
1.5 m
Two-stage, solid propellant

Pukguksong-1 Development

North Korea first began ejection testing the Pukguksong-1 in October 2014 and released imagery of the system’s early flight tests in May 2015.2 According to U.S. intelligence reports, North Korea launched the missile from a submersible barge as a test of the weapon’s compressed-gas ejection system. In two additional launch tests, both unsuccessful, took place in November and December 2015.3

On April 23, 2016, the Pukguksong-1 completed its first successful flight test, flying 30 km from the coastal city of Sinpo. It is unclear whether the test intentionally limited the missile’s flight envelope or whether it was intended to travel further. In an August 24, 2016 test, the Pukguksong-1 flew 500 km and into Japan’s air defense identification zone, “indicating technical improvements compared to previous tests.”4. North Korea first displayed the missile on parade on April 15, 2017.5

DateNumber LaunchedNotes
August 24, 20161Distance traveled: 500 km.
July 9, 20161Failed soon after launch
April 23, 20161Distance traveled: 30 km
December 21, 20151Failed soon after launch
November 28, 20151Failure to eject
May 9, 20151
Pukguksong-1 flight test history.

Pukguksong-1 Design

The Pukguksong-1 is a two-stage, solid-fueled ballistic missile employed on North Korea’s Sinpo-class submarine. The missile is estimated to be roughly 9 m long and 1.5 m in diameter. Early variants of the missile reportedly incorporated a liquid-fueled rocket motor, which was replaced by a solid-fueled system in 2016. The range and apogee of its August 24, 2016 flight test indicate that the missile’s range is approximately 1,200 km.6


    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. Kim Tae-woo, “North Korea’s SLBMs: China’s Role and South Korea’s Dilemma,” The Diplomat, September 7, 2016, https://thediplomat.com/2016/09/north-koreas-slbms-chinas-role-and-south-koreas-dilemma/.
    3. Jeffrey Lewis, “DPRK SLBM Test,” Arms Control Wonk, May 13, 2015, http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/207631/dprk-slbm-test/; Ankit Panda, “How Far Along Are North Korea’s Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles?” The Diplomat, January 11, 2016, https://thediplomat.com/2016/01/how-far-along-are-north-koreas-submarine-launched-ballistic-missiles/; Ankit Panda, “How We Know North Korea’s Latest SLBM Test Was a Likely Dud,” The Diplomat, January 14, 2016, https://thediplomat.com/2016/01/how-we-know-north-koreas-latest-slbm-test-was-a-likely-dud/.
    4. 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
    5. Ian Williams and Tom Karako, North Korea’s New Missiles on Parade, (Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2017), https://www.csis.org/analysis/north-koreas-new-missiles-parade.
    6. 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.
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Missile Defense Project, "Pukguksong-1 (KN-11)," Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, August 29, 2016, last modified April 23, 2024, https://missilethreat.csis.org/missile/kn-11/.