Jeffrey LewisDPRK Missile, Rocket Launches

 

I’ve been trying to keep track of the really impressive rate of missile testing in the DPRK over the past year plus now — not least because I was the only weirdo for a long time arguing that North Korea was testing an extended-range Toksa. (You have no idea how much crap I got for this blog post  and column that in retrospect were correct, FYI. )

The pace of testing has been really high.  After a US official talked about “turning up the volume” on the message to Pyongyang to return to Six Party Talks, I suggested making sure it was loud enough for Kim to hear over all the rocket and artillery fire.

I ended up geolocating the Wonsan test site, which helped sort out some of the rocket types. I’ve noticed that Kim Jong Un has started appearing with a green backdrop that makes “over the shoulder” geolocation a bit more difficult. Perhaps a coincidence.

Anyway, below is my best guess at a running list of tests since the beginning of 2014. It’s not perfect, but I’d love to crowd-review it in the comments.  And, in case you like really, really loud music, I’ve stuck a little earcandy at the end for you.

2014-2015 DPRK Launches of Rocket Artillery and Ballistic Missiles

Date

No.

YTD

Type Description in ROK or DPRK press

1

1/7/14

4

4

300mm MLRS

2

2/27/14

2

6

Scud “Scud series”

3

3/3/14

2

8

Scud “Scud-C type”

4

3/4/14

3

11

240mm MLR

5

3/4/14

4

15

“300 mm KN-09”

6

3/16/14

25

40

Frog “assumed…to be the so-called FROG”

7

3/22/14

30

70

rockets “flown around 60 kilometers”

8

3/23/14

16

84

“30 FROG ground-to-ground rockets”

9

3/26/14

2

86

Nodong “Rodong class”

10

6/26/14

3

93

ER KN-02 “ultra-precision tactical guided missiles”

11

6/29/14

2

91

Scud “missiles travelled up to 500km”

12

7/2/14

2

93

“ presumed to be 300-millimeter … KN-09”

13

7/9/14

2

95

Scud “Scud-type”

14

7/13/14

2

97

Scud “two missiles … traveled around 500km”

15

7/26/14

1

98

Scud “Scud type”

16

7/30/14

4

102

“presumed … 300-millimeter” MLRS

17

8/14/14

5

107

ER KN-02 “ultra-precision high-performance tactical rocket”

18

9/1/14

1

108

ER KN-02 “presumed…new type of tactical missile”

19

9/6/14

3

111

ER KN-02 “novel tactical missiles”

20

2/1/15

1

112

KH-35 “ultra-precision anti-ship rocket”

21

2/8/15

5

117

ER KN-02 “new type of tactical missile…test-fired last year”
 

Sources: Yonhap News; South Korean Ministry of Defense, Japanese Ministry of Defense, United States Department of State. Thank you to Detlef Kroeze for assisting in the preparation of this table.

 Notes: There are 2 “phantom” rockets somewhere in the data set.  I am reasonably sure they are located in the artillery firings conducted between 16-23 March.  I have removed them from the cumulative total.  The Scud and Nodong launches are all accounted for. 

The ROK MND only belatedly admitted to misidentifying a number of extended-range (ER) KN-02 launches as being for a 300 mm MLRS. All references to a 300 mm MLRS have been removed.  In instances where I am not confident the system tested was an extended-range KN-02, I have left the missile type blank.

Comments

  1. Steve Hildreth (History)

    Interesting. Not sure how this shows a high pace of testing, however, unless it’s compared to other country’s test programs of comparable systems or from previous years’ testing in North Korea.

    It would be also helpful to know, albeit unlikely we can, why they are testing. We test systems such as these to certify hardware and personnel, to validate computer models, etc. I wonder if North Korean testing is more than just for show and to make a statement.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      Sorry, you are right. I should have clarified that I mean a high pace of testing compared to previous years in North Korea. I have that data, although it’s a bit messy

      The old view was that they test mostly for show. There is still some of that, but I think the tests of the extended-range KN-02 represent a developmental program.

  2. George William Herbert (History)

    Seems to indicate that they performed at least some reloads on the Frogs they fired on those days in March 14; with 24-25 launchers, even if all were there for the test days, that’s all of them plus a few reloads. More likely only a fraction of the launchers were there, so that’s a fair number of reloads.

    Wondering what the motivation was. Munitions aging out, that they wanted to shoot rather than dismantle? Did they really need to take a battery or two of launchers and surge-rate test them for a couple of days?

    • Cthippo (History)

      Maybe the KN-09s are replacing the FROGs and so they’re burning up the FROGs and possibly using the firings to do some training on the new missiles. Perhaps they’re training on the ancillary equipment for the new system and using the old, similar FROGs, as stand-ins for the new KN-09s.

Pin It on Pinterest