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Hwasong 12

Intermediate-range ballistic missile

Hwasong 12 ballistic missile

The Hwasong 12 is a new North Korean ballistic missile

 
 
Country of origin North Korea
Entered service 2017 (?)
Basing Road-mobile
Missile
Missile length ~ 16.5 m
Missile diameter ~ 1.5 m
Missile launch weight ~ 25 t
Thrwo weight 500 ~ 650 kg
Warhead type Nuclear, single warhead with a blast yield of up to 1 MT
Range of fire 3 700 ~ 6 000 km
CEP ?

 

   The Hwasong 12 (Mars 12) is a new North Korean Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM). It is a road-mobile missile, based on a 6-axle high mobility chassis. In 2017 there were a total of 6 test launches of the Hwasong 12 missile. First 3 test launches failed, however the next 3 tests were successful. This North Korean ballistic missile was first publicly revealed in 2017 during a military parade. So it is possible that the Hwasong 12 was declared operational in 2017.

   North Korea is developing its nuclear arsenal at unprecedented pace. New types of ballistic missiles emerge at alarming rate. Development of the Hwasong 12 ballistic missile was assisted by Russia, China and possibly Ukraine. This explains the rapid progress of North Korea in the development of its new ICBMs. Due to complexity of technology involved North Korea could not develop such missiles on its own. Russia reportedly supplied Ukrainian-built engines for these missiles via a state space agency.

   The Hwasong 12 is a single-stage missile. It uses solid-fuel. This feature allowed to mount the missile on a wheeled Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL) vehicle. It uses a single main engine, along with 4 steering engines. It could be based on the engine of the Hwasong 10 ballistic missile, but with 2 additional steering engines. Alternatively it could be a modified Soviet RD-250 series engine, used on an R-36 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) (Western reporting name SS-9 Scarp). In 2017 Space Agency of Ukraine confirmed that these engines of the North Korean ICBMs were built in Ukraine, but were originally supplied to Russia for use on Tsyklon space rockets. According to South Korean intelligence around 20-40 RD-251 engines were obtained from Russian in 2016. Due to complexity of the technology North Korea could not reverse-engineer or locally modify these engines. Furthermore it appears that North Korea can not produce even fuel for the RD-250 series engine. The fuel had to be obtained from China or Russia.

   During one of its test flights in 2017 the Hwasong 12 missile demonstrated a range of 3 700 km. At the time it was the longest range demonstrated by a North Korean ballistic missile. Though it was soon surpassed by Hwasong 14 and Hwasong 15 intercontinental ballistic missiles that demonstrated even longer ranges. So it is estimated that the Hwasong 12 missile could potentially have a range of between 3 700 km and 6 000 km. Such range is sufficient to cover South Korea, Japan, significant areas in China and Russia. It can also reach a US naval base in Guam possibly Alaska.

   The missile carries a singe warhead, which weights around 500-650 kg. The warhead could potentially have a blast yield of 1 MT.

   The Hwasong 12 missiles uses a TEL vehicle of the previous Hwasong 10. North Korea acquired a number of MAZ-547 special wheeled chassis with 12x12 configuration that was used to carry a Soviet RSD-10 Pioner (Western reporting name SS-20 Saber) IRBMs. These chassis were acquired either from Russia or Belarus. Some sources report that North Korea operates less than 50 MAZ-547 launchers. This chassis was initially used to carry North Korean Hwasong 10 IRBMs. However it was later some modifications were made. Notably side skirts were added. It is possible that due to numerous failed launches of the Hwasong 10 its TEL vehicle was simply repurposed to carry the Hwasong 12 missiles, that has a similar range but was a more successful design.

   The TEL vehicle is operated by a crew of 3. Due to its road-mobile configuration the Hwasong 12 can rapidly displace between bases and launch sites over roads. The TEL has some degree of cross-country mobility as well. Its 38.9-liter V12 diesel engine develops 525 hp. This engine was originally designed for use in medium tanks and provided tremendous torque. It allowed road speeds of up to 60 km/h. Most likely that TEL vehicles with Hwasong 12 missiles are stored in underground facilities, excavated in hillsides. Once on high alert the missiles can leave their bases and operate in remote areas in order to increase their survivability. The TEL vehicle can launch its missile from prepared sites or from unprepared positions during field deployment. Once the missile is launched, the TEL vehicle can be reloaded with another missile. Reloading is performed by a crane.

 

Variants

 

   Hwasong 14 intercontinental ballistic missile. It is another North Korean road-mobile ballistic missile. Most likely that it was developed from the Hwasong 12. It can be seen as a 2-stage version of the Hwasong 12, as its first stage is similar. The Hwasong 14 has an added second stage and a smaller warhead for a longer range. This missile could potentially have a range of 10 000 km.

 

 

Hwasong 12 ballistic missile

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Hwasong 12 ballistic missile

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Hwasong 12 ballistic missile

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Hwasong 12 ballistic missile

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Hwasong 12 ballistic missile

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Hwasong 12 ballistic missile

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