KN-26 (Pukguksong-3)

The Pukguksong (“Polaris”)-3 is a North Korean submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) with an estimated range of 1,900km.1 After implying the program’s existence in 2017, North Korea tested the missile near Wonsan on October 2, 2019. 2

Pukguksong-3 at a Glance

Originated From: North Korea
Possessed By: North Korea
Alternate Names:  Pukkuksong-3
Class: Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM)
Basing: Submarine
Length: 7.8 – 8.3 m (estimated)
Diameter: 1.4 – 1.5 m
Launch Weight: Unknown
Payload: Unknown
Warhead: Unknown
Propulsion: Solid propellant
Range: 1,900 km (estimated)
Status: Unknown
First tested: 2019


North Korea first hinted the development of Pukguksong-3 in August 2017, showcasing a poster of the missile and upgraded equipment at the Chemical Materials Institute, a key element of its missile production complex.3 In October 2017, North Korea conducted a static test of a solid-propellant rocket motor reportedly intended for the Pukguksong-3.4 Pyongyang completed its expansion of solid-rocket production facilities—thought to produce the Pukguksong-series missiles—by mid-2018.5

North Korea first tested the Pukguksong-3 on October 2, 2019, firing the missile to a 450 km range and 910 km apogee.6 In the test, the missile cold-launched from an underwater platform and landed in Japan’s EEZ near Shimane Prefecture. A cold launch is a firing method common to submarine-based missiles in which missile is ejected from the launch tube, typically via a gas-powered system, prior to igniting its main motors. Data gathered by the Japanese Ministry of Defense suggests that the missile uses two stages.7


Like its predecessors, Pukguksong-1 (KN-11) and Puguksong-2 (KN-15), the Pukguksong-3 is a two-stage, solid-fueled ballistic missile. The missile appears to be 7.8 – 8.3 meters long, 1.4 to 1.5 meters in diameter, and is cold-launched using an aft-mounted gas-generator system.8 After clearing the water, the missile ejects its rear engine cover and ignites its main booster. Preliminary analyses of Pukguksong-3’s trajectory estimate its range at roughly 1,900 km.9

Service History

The weapon is likely intended for deployment on North Korea’s Sinpo– or Sinpo-derived ballistic missile submarines. On July 22, 2019, North Korean state media revealed imagery of a new class of submarine, likely designed to carry missiles.10 Further activity at North Korea’s shipyards was reported on August 26.11 However, the Pukguksong-3’s service status—and the maturity of North Korea’s submarine program—remains uncertain.

    1. David Wright, “North Korea’s Latest Missile Test, All Things Nuclear, October 1, 2019,
    2. “DPRK Academy of Defence Science Succeeds in Test-firing of New-type SLBM,” Rodong Sinmun, October 3, 2019,
    3. Joseph Bermudez and Dan Dueweke, “Expansion of North Korea’s Solid Fuel Ballistic Missile Program: The Eight Year Old Case of the Chemical Materials Institute,” 38 North, July 25, 2018,
    4. Ankit Panda, “North Korea Has Tested a New Solidd-Fuel Missile Engine, The Diplomat, October 25, 2017,
    5. Jeffrey Lewis and Dave Schmerler, “North Korea Expanding Key Missile Site,” Arms Control Wonk, July 2, 2018,
    6. “N. Korea presumed to have fired 1 SLBM-type missile:JCS,” Yonhap News, October 2, 2019,
    7. Reiji Yoshida, “North Korea fires ballistic missile built to be launched from submarine into Japan’s EEZ,” The Japan Times, October 2, 2019,
    8. Michael Elleman, “North Korea’s New Pukguksong-3 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile,” 38 North, October 3, 2019,
    9. Wright, “North Korea’s Latest Missile Test.”
    10. Josh Smith and David Brunnstrom, “North Korea’s Kim inspects new submarine, signals possible ballistic missile development,” Reuters, July 22, 2019,
    11. Joseph Bermudez and Victor Cha, “Sinpo South Shipyard: Construction of a New Ballistic Missile Submarine?” Beyond Parallel, August 28, 2019,