The KN-17, is believed to be a single-stage, short to medium-range, liquid fueled Scud or No Dong variant, with some form of maneuvering reentry vehicle (MaRV). U.S. officials first noted its existence on April 17, 2017.1
KN-17 at a Glance
Originated from: North Korea
Possessed by: North Korea
Alternate names: KN-17
Class: Medium-range Ballistic Missile (MRBM)
Basing: Road mobile, tracked transporter-erector launcher
Propulsion: single-stage, liquid propulsion
Status: In Development
In service: First appeared April 15, 2017
It is widely speculated that the KN-17 was first displayed at North Korea’s annual military parade in Pyongyang on April 16, 2017, where a Scud or No Dong variant was seen carried on a tracked transporter erector launcher.2
The first test of the KN-17 likely occurred on April 5, 2017, when the missile was launched from Sinpo in the South Hamgyong province of North Korea. According to U.S. Pacific Command, the missile flew a distance of 60 km and reached a height of 189 km before starting to “pinwheel,” landing into the Sea of Japan after 9 minutes of flight time. 3 Reports suggest that the missile “pinwheeled” out of control and was considered a failure by US and South Korean officials. 4
The second suspected launch of the KN-17 occurred on April 16, 2017 from the same base in Sinpo and was also considered to be a failure, blowing up just seconds after launch. [ 5. “Pentagon Announces Review of Nuclear Posture amid North Korea Tensions,” Lucas Tomlinson, Fox News, April 17, 2017, http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/04/17/pentagon-announces-review-nuclear-posture-amid-north-korea-tensions.html.]
The third suspected KN-17 test occurred on April 29, 2017. The missile is presumed to have launched from Pukchang airfield and flew approximated 35 km before crashing. [ 6. “North Korea’s Missile Test Fails, US Military Says,” Ryan Browne, CNN, April 29, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/28/world/north-korea-missile-launch/. ]
Its fourth test occured on May 28, 2017. An apparent success, the missile flew around 450 kilometers before landing in the Sea of Japan. This was the first flight test in which North Korea released photographs of the launch.
If the KN-17 is the Scud variant first seen in the April 15 parade, it features distinctive forward fins, presumably to add a terminal guidance capability for increased maneuverability and accuracy. According news reports, U.S. officials believe that this maneuverability could give KN-17 an antiship capability. Given North Korea’s current lack of longer range surveillance and target acquisition capabilities of moving targets, however, it would likely struggle to carry out such an attack successfully.
It has also been suggested that the KN-17 is not the Scud variant first seen on April 15, but rather the KN-17 designation refers to the Hwasong-12, an intermediate-range ballistic missiles which North Korea successfully tested on May 14, 2017. 5 If this is the case, the maneuvering Scud variant may have been tested only one time to date, on May 28, 2017. It would also mean that this missile has no known designation.
- Pentagon Announces Review of Nuclear Posture amid North Korea Tensions,” Lucas Tomlinson, Fox News, April 17, 2017, http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/04/17/pentagon-announces-review-nuclear-posture-amid-north-korea-tensions.html. ↩
- “Is North Korea Working Toward a ‘Carrier Killer’ Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile?” Ankit Panda, The Diplomat, April 18, 2017, http://thediplomat.com/2017/04/is-north-korea-working-toward-a-carrier-killer-anti-ship-ballistic-missile/. ↩
- “ North Korea test-fires missile into sea ahead of Trump-Xi Summit,” Ju-min Park and Jack Kim, Reuters, April 5, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-idUSKBN1762XX. ↩
- Ibid. ↩
- Ankit Panda, “Exclusive: North Korea Tested Its New Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile 3 Times in April 2017,” The Diplomat, June 3, 2017, http://thediplomat.com/2017/06/exclusive-north-korea-tested-its-new-intermediate-range-ballistic-missile-3-times-in-april-2017/. ↩