By Markus Schiller and Robert H. Schmucker
08 November 2016
At 12:14 p.m. on September 5, 2016, North Korea launched three missiles within one minute of each other from a highway south of Pyongyang. All three launches were successful; the missiles reportedly each covered a distance of 1,000 km and landed about 240 km west of Okushirito Island, part of the Japanese prefecture of Hokkaido.
The tests marked the first public demonstration of this missile, but the weapon itself is not new. Rumors surfaced more than 15 years ago that North Korea possessed this missile, and strong indications exist that it was part of a massive transfer of Soviet technology and know-how to the DPRK in the 1990s.
Read the full technical analysis here.
Figures featured in analysis, hover over images for captions.
Figure 1. The missile launches of September 5, 2016.
Figure 2. Launch site.
The launch video was recorded from a distance, making the three TELs and the tunnel entrances look closer together than they actually were.
Figure 3. The missile.
(Image: Schmucker Technologie)
Figure 4. Dimensions and configuration.
The missile’s total length is estimated as 12,834 mm, with a small margin of error. (Image: Schmucker Technologie)
Figure 5. Acceleration.
The measured acceleration matches that of a standard 13.3-metric-ton Scud-B engine for the reconstructed missile. (Image: ST Analytics)
Figure 6. Scud-ER Missile Trajectory from September 5, 2016 tests.
The missile’s peak altitude is only around 200 km, and its flight time is 9 minutes. The boost phase is marked yellow.
Figure 7. Kuwolsan drawing.
This drawing, found in 1999 aboard the North Korean freighter Kuwolsan, shows a missile with segments that are a perfect match in length for the “new” 1-m Scud missile. Just one short additional segment between tanks and the warhead seems to be missing here. (Image: Schmucker Technologie)
Figure 8. Excerpt from 1974 DIA report.
(Image: US Defense Intelligence Agency/National Security Archive)
Figure 9. Evolving Scud Configurations.
The Scud-ER is a logical step along the known line of Scud missiles. The short instrument section was introduced with the Scud-D, and the propellant tanks were swapped. (Image: Schmucker Technologie)
Figure 10. Range and payload graph.
The performance graph illustrates the development path of the Scud family. It also highlights that the Nodong and the “new” Scud were quite close to the SS-22 in range, but with severe operational drawbacks that may have precluded their acceptance for deployment by the Soviet Politburo. Due to its high net mass, the Nodong does not show impressive performance gains with lighter warheads. (Image: Schmucker Technologie)