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Hwasong 14

Intercontinental ballistic missile

Hwasong 14 ICBM

Development of Hwasong 14 ballistic missile was assisted by Russia, China, and possibly Ukraine

 
 
Country of origin North Korea
Entered service 2017 (?)
Basing Road-mobile
Missile
Missile length 18 ~ 20 m
Missile diameter 1.5 ~ 1.8 m
Missile launch weight ~ 30 t
Throw weight ?
Number of MIRVs 1
Range (full load) ?
Range (reduced load) up to 10 000 km (?)
CEP ?

 

   The Hwasong 14 (Mars 14) is a new North Korean road-mobile Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). It is carried by an 8-axle vehicle. This missile was first launched in 2017. The second launch followed after a couple of months. As far as the test launches were successful, it is possible that this missile was declared operational.

   North Korea is developing its nuclear arsenal at unprecedented pace. New types of ballistic missiles emerge at alarming rate. Development of the Hwasong 14 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. China supplied Transport Erector Launcher (TEL) vehicles to carry these missiles and, possibly, contributed to warhead technology. Russia and China aid North Korea in the design of nuclear weapons in order to distract world's attention from their own missile programs and aggressive behavior.

   The Hwasong 14 is a 2-stage missile. It could be a 2-stage version of Hwasong 12 intermediate-range ballistic missile, as its first stage appears to be similar to the Hwasong 12. The second stage apparently increased range of the missile. The Hwasong 14 is a solid-fuel missile. This feature allowed to mount the missile on a wheeled TEL vehicle. The missile is around 18-20 m long.

   First stage of the Hwasong 14 has a single engine. It is a modified Soviet RD-250 series engine, used on an R-36 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.

   The second stage of the Hwasong 14 resembles upper stages designed for Iranian space launched vehicles. Some sources report that the second stage uses an RD-4D10 engine, originally designed and built for Soviet R-27 submarine-launched ballistic missile.

   It is estimated that the Hwasong 14 could potentially have a range of 6 700 to up 10 000 km. Such range is sufficient to reach United States.

   Judging by its nose cap this ICBM carries a single warhead. Though there is no reliable information regarding throw weight of the missile, or blast yield of its warhead. Some sources report that the warhead might be based on American Mark 2 design of the 1950s and could potentially produce 15 kT - equivalent to Hiroshima bomb.

   Most likely that this missile has inertial guidance system with a satellite navigation system update.

   The Hwasong 14 missile is carried by a Chinese Wanshan WS51200 8-axle TEL vehicle with 16x12 configuration. It is a product of Wanshan Special Vehicle company. North Korea has got no capabilities to produce these multi-axle vehicles on its own. Furthermore since 2006 sanctions imposed on North Korea by the United Nations have banned export of military hardware to North Korea. Vehicles were imported from China in 2011 violating these arms control regulations. The Wanshan WS51200 vehicles were officially referred as "logging transport" for civilian applications. North Koreans locally converted these vehicles into missile launchers by installing hydraulic gear and controls to erect a missile.

   TEL of the Hwasong 14 has got no launching container, that would protect the vehicle from rocket exhaust. Though North Korea solved this problem by using a special launch pad on base of the missile. Once in launch position the TEL vehicle just erects the missile on the launch pad. After that the vehicle leaves the launch site in order to avoid damage from rocket exhaust. However once the missile is launched the TEL can be reloaded with another missile. Reload missile is carried on a 4-axle semi-trailer, towed by Chinese HOWO tractor truck. Reloading is performed by a crane.

   The TEL vehicle is operated by a crew of 4 to 6.

   Road mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles are harder to detect and hit. These have a high probability of surviving the first strike, once the country has been attacked. Once on high alert, the Hwasong 14 missiles can leave their bases and operate in remote areas in order to increase their survivability. Most likely that Hwasong 14 TELs with missiles are based in underground facilities, excavated in hillsides. Though mobile missiles a more costly to maintain and operate, comparing with silo-based missiles, and require more personnel. The Hwasong 14 can launch its missile from prepared sites or from unprepared positions during field deployment.

 

 

Hwasong 14 ICBM

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Hwasong 14 ICBM

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Hwasong 14 ICBM

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Hwasong 14 ICBM

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Hwasong 14 ICBM

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Hwasong 14 ICBM

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Hwasong 14 ICBM

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