The Hwasong-15 (Chosŏn'gŭl: 화성 15호; Hancha: 火星 15号; lit. Mars-15) is an intercontinental ballistic missile developed by North Korea. It had its maiden flight on 28 November 2017, around 3 a.m. local time. It is the first ballistic missile developed by North Korea that is theoretically capable of reaching all of the United States mainland (including Washington D.C.).
|Type||Intercontinental ballistic missile|
|Place of origin||North Korea|
|In service||First successful test on 28 November 2017|
|Used by||North Korea|
|Produced||2017 - present|
|Warhead||nuclear weapon, possibly MRV|
|Warhead weight||1,000 kg|
|Engine||Liquid fuel rocket engine Paektusan
|Flight altitude||4,475-4,500 km|
|9 axle Transporter Erector vehicle|
Initially, it was assumed by many analysts that the missile launched was a Hwasong-14, however when North Korea leaked images and video of the missile and launch, they showed a completely different missile.
North Korea stated that the missile reached an altitude of around 4,475 km and traveled some 950 km downrange with a flight time of 53 minutes. Based on its trajectory and distance, the missile would have a range of more than 13,000 km (8,100 miles) – more than enough to reach Washington D.C. and the rest of the United States, albeit with a reduced payload according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. In addition, the range covers several of the United States’s international allies such as the United Kingdom and France, as well as all of Earth's continents, except South America and most of Antarctica.
However some experts say that the missile is only capable of firing a light warhead. It is difficult to accurately determine the payload of a warhead simply by looking at it, as different warhead casing materials and explosives will have different mass densities. For example, metallic based explosives can weigh several times more than organic explosives for the same volume; however the Union of Concerned Scientists, whom it should be noted had neither seen pictures of the missile as they were not released at the time nor have they physically examined the missile, concluded that equipping the missile with a normal-sized payload would likely reduce the overall range.
It was the first launch after a 10-week break.
However, the missile’s re-entry vehicle failed to successfully re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere, according to the Japanese defense minister Itsunori Onodera. The missile broke apart before crashing into the waters within Japan’s exclusive economic zone. Some of the sources for this conclusion were later assessed to have likely been observing the missile's first stage burn out rather than the re-entry vehicle.
According to analysts, The Hwasong-15 first stage has a gimbaled two-chambered main engine system, as opposed to the Hwasong-12 and Hwasong-14 which have one fixed main chamber and four gimbaled steering vernier thruster chambers. Its first stage booster design is strikingly similar to the Titan II missile.
According to missile specialist Norbert Brügge, the missile uses the ‘Pektusan’, the first stage of the two stage missile uses an RD-250 clone liquid propulsion system developed by Pyongyang, comprising two combustors fed by common turbopump to increase takeoff thrust. The new propulsion is estimated to have 170 percent increase in thrust, compared to the Hwasong-14.
On November 29th, 2017, Michael Elleman wrote for 38 North that at 13,000 km, the payload would be around 150 kg (330 lb), based on flight data of the test and conjectured it was a reconfigured Hwasong-14 and on November 30th, after release of the images and video of launch, he wrote a subsequent article on 38th North in which he stated that he first visualized the design of the missile based solely on flight data. After seeing the images and video, Elleman increased the maximum estimate of payload from 150 kg to 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) at a range of 13,000 km. He noted major differences in the design of the actual Hwasong-15 and the missile he visualized the day before, from the dimensions to two nozzles/engine instead of one, such as on the Hwasong-14.
Analysts have noted that the re-entry vehicle has a blunter nose than previous designs, which can accommodate a larger diameter warhead and reduces re-entry stress and heating at the cost of accuracy. Some analysts think it may have been designed with multiple warheads or decoys in mind.
The 9 axle Transporter erector launcher (TEL) vehicle is larger compared to the 8 axle TEL vehicle of the Hwasong-14. However, just like the Hwasong-14, the launch footage indicates the missile was fired from a fixed launch pad, not from the vehicle.
- Brügge, Norbert (29 November 2017). "North Korea's ultimate nuclear ICBM "Hwasong-15" (HS-15)". www.b14643.de.
- "The New Hwasong-15 ICBM: A Significant Improvement That May be Ready as Early as 2018". 38 North: Informed Analysis of North Korea. 30 November 2017. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
- "N Korea says new missile can hit entire US". 29 November 2017 – via www.bbc.com.
- "[속보] 북 "신형 ICBM 시험발사 성공"…화성-15형 첫 공개". 29 November 2017. (in Korean)
- "북, 국가핵무력 완성 선포… "신형 ICBM 화성-15 발사 성공"". 29 November 2017. (in Korean)
- "North Korea tests 'new long-range missile' capable of striking anywhere in US as Donald Trump says he will 'take care of it'". The Telegraph. 29 November 2017.
- Mangan, Dan; Chandran, Nyshka (28 November 2017). "Latest North Korean ICBM can hit Washington, DC — and much of rest of US".
- Newman, Lily Hay. "North Korea's Latest Missile Test Was Even Scarier Than It Seemed". www.wired.com.
- Smith, Josh; Nichols, Michelle (29 November 2017). "North Korea says new ICBM puts U.S. mainland within range of nuclear weapons". Reuters.
- "North Korea's latest ICBM has a new name". Business Insider. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
- Wright, David (28 November 2017). "North Korea's Longest Missile Test Yet". allthingsnuclear.org. Union of Concerned Scientists. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
- Wright, David (7 December 2017). "Reentry of North Korea's Hwasong-15 Missile". allthingsnuclear.org. Union of Concerned Scientists. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
- "North Korea ends break in testing with long-range missile launch". Peeblesshire News.
- "North Korea announces successful missile test". Australian News Channel. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017.
- Ramzy, Austin (5 December 2017). "Jet Pilots Say They Saw North Korean Missile in Flight". New York Times. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
- Wright, David (5 December 2017). "Did Pilots See North Korea's Missile Fail during Reentry?". Union of Concerned Scientists. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
- CNN, James Griffiths,. "North Korea's new Hwasong-15 missile: What the photos show".
- Ashok, India (2017-11-30). "New North Korea ICBM photos show Kim Jong-un celebrating but is the giant missile nuclear capable?". International Business Times UK. Retrieved 2017-11-30.
- "North Korean Deterrence Boosted with HS-15 Success - Defense Update:". defense-update.com. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
- Elleman, Michael (29 November 2017). "North Korea's Third ICBM Launch". 38 North: Informed Analysis of North Korea.
- "US missile expert: N. Korean missile larger than thought, could carry decoys". Asia Times. 2 December 2017. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
- "Hwasong-15 ICBM November 29, 2017".
- Lewis, Jeffrey (29 November 2017). "The missile checkout before the launch was done at the March 16 Factory, which Kim Jong Un visited early in November. This is probably where North Korea manufactures the 9-axle TEL".
- Majumdar, Dave. "Hwasong-15: North Korea's New Missile That Shocked the World". The National Interest.
- Dempsey, Joseph (29 November 2017). "9 axles indicated for Hwasong-15 TEL - #NorthKorea has previous utilised an 8 axle TEL derived from #China origin WS51200 trucks for their tested and untested ICBM designs.pic.twitter.com/SLcuC2T3Tk".