The BM-25 Musudan (Hwasong-10) is a North Korean intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM). It is speculated to have a range of 2,500 – 4,000 km with a 500 – 1,200 kg payload—enough to hold bases in Guam and Japan at risk.
BM-25 Musudan at a Glance
- Originated from
- North Korea
- Alternate Names
- Hwasong-10, Mirim, Nodong B, BM-25
- Possessed by
- North Korea, Iran
- Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM)
- Road-mobile, ground-launched
- 12.0 m
- 1.5 – 2.0 m
- Launch Weight
- 19,000 – 26,000 kg
- Single warhead, 500 – 1,200 kg
- HE or nuclear
- Liquid propellant, single-stage
- 2,500 – 4,000 km
- Under development
BM-25 Musudan Development
The BM-25 Musudan is derived from the Soviet R-27 (NATO: SS-N-6 ‘Serb’) submarine-launched ballistic missile. North Korea reportedly began developing the Musudan missile in 1992, when it formalized a contract with Russia’s Makeyev Engineering Design Office to produce an R-27-derived space launch vehicle. North Korea allegedly completed Musudan prototypes in 2000, and in September 2003, U.S. officials observed the first deployments of Musudan launchers at Mirim airbase near Pyongyang. The Musudan system began to enter North Korean service at some point between 2003 and 2008.1
North Korea first publicly displayed the Musudan missile on parade in 2010. Despite concerns of an impending test, North Korea did not test launch the Musudan until April 15, 2016. The test was unsuccessful. According to South Korean and Pentagon officials, the test concluded with a “fiery, catastrophic attempt at a launch,” destroying the missile.2 Two successive tests—on April 27 and 28—also failed.3 On May 30, North Korea conducted its fourth unsuccessful test of the Musudan, with the missile exploding shortly after launch.4
Date Number Launched Notes April 15, 2016 1 Failure to launch April 27, 2016 1 Failure to launch April 28, 2016 1 Failure to launch May 30, 2016 1 Failure to launch June 21, 2016 2 Missile 1 traveled 150 km before catastrophic failure; Missile 2 reaches 400 km, 1000 km apogee October 9, 2016 1 Failure to launch; unconfirmed if Musudan October 19, 2016 1 Failure to launch; unconfirmed if Musudan
On June 21, 2016, North Korea flight-tested two additional missiles, achieving its first successful flight of the system. Japanese and South Korean officials stated that the first missile traveled approximately 150 km from a launch point near Wonsan before breaking up in flight.5 In state media releases, North Korea claimed that testers intentionally destroyed the missile mid-flight.6 North Korea conducted its second, successful launch two hours later. During this test, the Musudan traveled 400 km while reaching a maximum altitude of over 1,000 km.The Department of Defense confirmed that STRATCOM detected and tracked both missile launches and that each fell into the Sea of Japan.7 In a statement following the test, North Korea claimed the “sure capability to attack in an overall and practical way the Americans in the Pacific operation theater.”8
Given the steep, “lofted” trajectory of the successful test, analysts estimate that the Musudan could range 2,500 to 4,000 km, placing U.S. bases in South Korea, Japan, and Guam at risk.9 Additionally, the test’s lofted trajectory could demonstrate an alternative employment mode for the Musudan system. The increased reentry speed gained from a lofted missile could potentially represent an effort to stress U.S. and South Korean missile defenses. 10
On October 9 and 19, 2016, North Korea conducted two unconfirmed tests of the Musudan missile from Kusong in the country’s northwest. Both tests reportedly have failed catastrophically. While the U.S. Strategic Command and most analysts suspected the tests involved the Musudan missile, some speculated at the time that the test may have involved the Hwasong-13 (KN-08), a developmental North Korean ICBM.11
The Musudan IRBM is a single-stage missile with an estimated length of 12 – 19 m and a diameter of 1.5 – 2.0 m. The missile is thought to possess a launch weight of 19,000 – 26,000 kg and carries a warhead of approximately 1,200 kg. Missile guidance is inertial with an accuracy of 1,600 m circular error probable (CEP).
The missile uses a North Korean variant of the Russian 4D10 liquid-fueled rocket engine found on the R-27 SLBM. Fueled by more energetic unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) and nitrogen tetroxide (NTO) propellants, the 4D10 offers enhanced performance over the kerosene-powered Scud and Nodong missile engines. This allows the Musudan to achieve ranges of 2,500 to 4,000 km without significantly increasing the missile’s size.12
Despite its poor performance in testing, the U.S. intelligence in 2020 still classified the Musudan as deployed with fewer than 50 launchers.
North Korea reportedly sold 18 Musudan missile sets to Iran in 2005. According to unofficial reports, Iran may have flight-tested a Musudan missile on behalf of North Korea in May 2007.13 In 2009, additional reports surfaced linking North Korea and Iran’s missile efforts, indicating that Pyongyang had transferred Musudan parts to Iran.14
- Jeffrey Lewis, “Origins of the Musudan IRBM,” Arms Control Wonk, June 11, 2012, https://www.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/205337/origins-of-the-musudan-irbm/; “North Korea Missile Capabilities,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, May 1, 2010, https://www.nti.org/analysis/articles/north-korea-missile-capabilities/.
- “North Korean missile test ‘fiery, catastrophic’ failure: Pentagon,” Reuters, April 15, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missile-usa-pentagon-idUSKCN0XC28N; Anne Fifield, “North Korea’s missile launch has failed, South’s military says,” The Washington Post, April 15, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/north-koreas-missile-has-failed-officials-from-south-say/2016/04/14/8eb2ce53-bc38-40d0-9013-5655bed26764_story.html
- U.S. Strategic Command Public Affairs, “USSTRATCOM Detects, Tracks Attempted North Korean Missile Launches,” U.S. Strategic Command, April 28, 2016, https://www.stratcom.mil/Media/News/News-Article-View/Article/983700/update-1-usstratcom-detects-tracks-attempted-north-korean-missile-launches/.
- Ju-min Park, “Attempted North Korea missile launch fails: South Korea,” Reuters, May 30, 2016, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missile-fail/attempted-north-korea-missile-launch-fails-south-korea-idUSKCN0YM015.
- Gabriel Dominguez, Chieko Tsuneoka, and Karl Dewey, “North Korean ballistic missile fires 400 km,” IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, June 22, 2016, http://www.janes.com/article/61684/north-korean-ballistic-missile-flies-400-km
- Julian Ryall, “North Korea claims mid-air explosion of Musudan was ‘deliberate,’” IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, July 7, 2016, http://www.janes.com/article/62058/north-korea-claims-mid-air-explosion-of-musudan-was-deliberate
- “Stratcom Detects, Tracks North Korean Missile Launches,” Department of Defense, June 22, 2016.
- Jack Kim, “North Korea leader says missile launch shows ability to attack U.S. in Pacific,” Reuters, June 23, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missile-kim-idUSKCN0Z82PB?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=Social
- Ankit Panda, “North Korea Just Test Launched 2 More Musudan Missiles. Here’s Why That Matters,” The Diplomat, June 22, 2016, https://thediplomat.com/2016/06/north-korea-just-test-launched-2-more-musudan-missiles-heres-why-that-matters/.
- John Schilling, “A Partial Success for the Musudan,” 38 North, June 23, 2016, http://38north.org/2016/06/jschilling062316/
- Anna Fifield, “Did North Korea just test missiles capable of hitting the U.S.? Maybe,” The Washington Post, October 26, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/did-north-korea-just-test-missiles-capable-of-hitting-the-us-maybe/2016/10/26/984e8a21-e6a7-4689-81e0-21d7d25c302f_story.html; Amanda Macias, “A North Korean nuclear attack ‘will be met with an overwhelming and effective response’, Business Insider, October 20, 2016, http://www.businessinsider.com/pentagon-north-korean-nuclear-attack-overwhelming-response-2016-10.
- Jeffrey Lewis, “New DPRK ICBM Engine,” Arms Control Wonk, April 9, 2016, http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/1201278/north-korea-tests-a-fancy-new-rocket-engine/.
- John Pomfret and Walter Pincus “Experts question North Korea-Iran missile link from WikiLeaks document release,” The Washington Post, December 1, 2010, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/30/AR2010113006781.html