Country of origin
~ 16.5 m
~ 1.5 m
Missile launch weight
~ 25 t
500 ~ 650 kg
Nuclear, single warhead with a blast yield of up
to 1 MT
Range of fire
3 700 ~ 6 000 km
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.