Fact Sheet: North Korea Missile Activity in 2017

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February 12, 2017 – Medium Range Ballistic Missile Launch 

Missile Pukguksong-2, also known as the KN-15
Flight The missile flew ~ 500 km (310 mi) on a lofted trajectory, reaching a height of ~ 550 km (340 mi).
Landed Sea of Japan
Status Success


What did we learn?

  • This was the first flight test of KN-15, a land-based version of the KN-11.
  • The missile uses solid fuel which reduces the preparation time necessary for a launch and the associated fueling infrastructure (trucks and staff) that would increase the detectability of the missile.

March 5, 2017 – Salvo Launch of Medium Range Ballistic Missiles

Missile Four ballistic missiles launched simultaneously, allegedly a fifth missile failed to launch. The missiles were likely Extended-Range SCUDs.
Flight The missiles flew ~ 1,000 km (620 mi), and reached an altitude of 260 km (160 mi)
Landed Sea of Japan, three within Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone
Status Success


What did we learn?

  • Salvo launching ballistic missiles is a tactic for overwhelming an adversary’s defense and monitoring systems. North Korea is likely testing its ability to launch such a strike.

March 22, 2017 – Failed Ballistic Missile Launch

Missile Unknown
Flight Unknown
Landed Exploded seconds after launch
Status Failure


What did we learn?

  • Very little about this test is known, other than that a ballistic missile exploded within seconds of launch. There is another theory that the missile may have exploded before even being launched.

April 5, 2017 – Failed Short Range Ballistic Missile Launch

Missile Originally deemed a KN-15, but could also be an older extended-range liquid-fueled SCUD.
Flight Flew about 60 km (40 mi), reaching an altitude of about 190 km (120 mi) (Reportedly “pinwheeled” and spun out of control early into its flight)
Landed Sea of Japan
Status Deemed a failure 


What did we learn?

  • There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding this test. This test was conducted ahead of a meeting between U.S. President Trump and Chinese President Xi, which could explain the launching of an already-operational missile, such as the SCUD, as a way to credibly signal resolve.

April 16, 2017- Failed Medium Range Ballistic Missile Launch

Missile KN-17
Flight Failed seconds after launch
Landed Exploded seconds after launch
Status Failure         


What did we learn?

  • The missile appears to be a single stage, liquid-fueled missile. Because it uses liquid fuel, the missile must be fueled shortly before launching, increasing its vulnerability to detection during the process.

April 28, 2017 – Failed Medium Range Ballistic Missile Launch

Missile Unknown, but presumed KN-17
Flight Traveled about 35 km (22 mi)
Landed Exploded seconds after launch
Status Failure    


What did we learn?

  • This test was similar to the previous test, both of which are considered failures.

May 13, 2017 – Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile Launch

Missile Hwasong-12
Flight Traveled ~ 700 km (430 mi) at very steep trajectory, reaching a peak altitude of ~ 2,100 km (1,300 mi)
Landed Sea of Japan, ~ 100 km (60 mi) from Russian coast
Status Successful       


What did we learn?

  • North Korea’s flight test of this new intermediate range missile demonstrates a new level of capability. On a less steep trajectory, estimates indicate the missile could have traveled 4,500 km (2,800 mi), which would place U.S. military installations in Guam within range.
  • North Korea also claims it tested a heat shield for its reentry vehicle. But the steep flight path of this test would simulate a shorter, less intense reentry than would be required of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

May 21, 2017 – Medium Range Ballistic Missile Launch

Missile Pukguksong-2, also known as KN-15 (A land-based version of the submarine launched KN-11)
Flight Traveled ~ 500 km (300 mi), reaching an altitude of ~ 550 km (350 mi)
Landed Sea of Japan
Status Successful


What did we learn?

  • This launch was a similar test to the February 2017 test of the same missile.
  • The missile uses solid fuel which reduces the preparation time necessary for a launch and the associated fueling infrastructure (trucks and staff) that would increase the detectability of the missile.

May 29, 2017 – Short Range Ballistic Missile Launch

Missile Scud Missile (with guided reentry vehicle) (unconfirmed)
Flight Traveled around 400 km (250 mi) at a maximum altitude around 120 km (75 mi)
Landed Sea of Japan
Status Success


What did we learn?

  • North Korea claims the launch demonstrated its ability to launch a guided warhead with “control wings,” which allow the warhead to make corrections during flight to improve its accuracy.

June 8, 2017 – Short Range Anti-Ship Cruise Missile Launches

Missile Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles (number unconfirmed)
Flight Traveled around 200 km (125 mi)
Landed Sea of Japan
Status Success

 

What did we learn?

  • North Korea is continuing to work towards supplementing its missile capabilities with guided cruise missile.

 

Sources: U.S. Pacific Command, South Korea Ministry of National Defense, CNN, Reuters, Washington Post, New York Times, Union for Concerned Scientists, CSIS.