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Hyunmoo (Hangul: 현무, literally means "Guardian of the Northern Sky") is a series of missiles developed by South Korea.

The Hyunmoo is the only ballistic missile developed by South Korea that was actually deployed. This missile improved the first stage propelling device that was a problem in the Paekgom. The first test-launch of the Hyunmoo was successful in 1982; following domestic twists and turns due to internal political situation of South Korea until the second test-launch in September 1985 flight test by the Defense Systems Test Center (DSTC).



Hyunmoo-1 is the first ballistic missile developed by South Korea, (NHK, Nike Hercules Korea).[1] In 1986, South Korea succeeded in a test-launch in the current capacity with a payload of 480 kg and a range of 180 km. The US, however, withheld the export approval of Hyunmoo in 1990, and requested South Korea to provide technical information on the Hyunmoo. It also requested a note by South Korea promising not to develop missiles with a range over 180 km. After providing the US with the guarantee correspondence, South Korea started to produce a limited number of Hyunmoo missiles and was under the inspection of the United States until the production ended.

The Hyunmoo system [the name roughly translates as "guardian angel of the northern skies"], has been indigenously developed in the Agency for Defense Development and now it is in service by the South Korean army.

The missile is launched from the mobile launcher and fire-controlled by the battery control van. The Hyunmoo-1 missile, which is propelled by two-stage solid rocket motor and features inertial guidance and control system, can reach the heart of its intended targets under any weather conditions without any commands from the ground after fire. The missile is approximately 12 m long, weighing 5 tons.


Hyunmoo-2 launch
Hyunmoo-2 launch of 2017.

The Hyunmoo-2A was the first of South Korea's attempts to develop an newer indigenous ballistic missile with an increased range, over Hyunmoo-1. Due to an agreement in 2001 with the MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime), the missile's range was limited to 300 km. It is carried by a 4 axle transporter erector launcher (TEL).

Eventually the missile range was increased to 800 km which spurred on the development of Hyunmoo-2B and Hyunmoo-2C.

South Korea released the upgraded version of Hyunmoo-2A, named Hyunmoo-2B, which was put into service in late 2009. This ballistic missile had an increased range of 500 km.[2] If launched from the central region of South Korea, all of North Korean territory is under a 550-kilometer striking range.[3] Its accuracy is 30 m circular error probable.[4]

The upgraded version of Hyunmoo-2B, named Hyunmoo-2C, was unveiled in 2017. The ballistic missile has an increased range of 800 km,[5] but with warhead weight is reduced by half, and uses a different type of TEL, with 5 axles and launch canister that is wider and longer, suggesting increased weight.[6] The warhead section features maneuvering fins (similar to those on Pershing II), which suggests a maneuverable reentry vehicle or some type of terminal guidance for increased accuracy.[7] It has extreme accuracy (circular error probable of 1-5 m), ideal as bunker buster.[8] is onIf fired from southernmost Jeju Island, it can still reach all of North Korea, but will be outside the range of North Korean Scud missiles.[3]

The missile is suspected to be a derivative of the Russian Iskander missile. From video and pictures published by the Korean military and media, Hyunmoo-II missile's head is similar to the Russian Iskander missile and the double cone structure of China's M20 missile, missile shape and Iskander missile is very similar. Even the tail is the Iskander-style truncated delta wing, which shows the missile and the Iskander missile cut off the blood relationship, a comprehensive judgment that should be the result of the output of the Iskander missile technology. There is precedent for Russia and South Korea cooperation. Seoul's KM-SAM air-defence system is based on the Russian 9M96E missile developed for the S-400 Triumf (SA-21 'Growler') system but Hyunamoo II has the general shape of the American ATACMS missile.[9][10][11]


In 2006, the South Korean defense ministry released a statement that it had been testing several cruise missiles under the series of Hyunmoo-3 which were similar to the American Tomahawk. The first official model, Hyunmoo-3B, was unveiled in 2009 with an maximum range of 1,000 km meaning it could hit any part of North Korea as well as some parts of China and Tokyo Unlike Hyunmoo-2 missiles, the Hyunmoo-3 missiles would use cruise missile technology. It uses the same four axle TEL like the Hyunmoo 2.

The Hyunmoo-3C missile's deployment is still unknown. The missile would have an increased maximum range of 1,500 km. Analysts agree that numerous test launches of the Hyunmoo-3C missiles have been carried out and development of the missile continues. However, deployment has yet to be completed.[12]

Hyunmoo-3D/Hyunmoo-4 are under speculation however work on such a missile is unlikely to occur any time soon due to regulations on missile range. Some cite its deployment for the late 2030s however, such a missile is still a grey area to the public.


While South Korean military missiles are currently capable of destroying out North Korean structures on land, it says it needs heavier warheads to be able to destroy North Korea's underground facilities and bunkers.[13] The new Hyunmoo IV ballistic missile[14][15] will likely be fitted with a new 1,000-kilogram (2,200-pound) warhead capable of destroying North Korea’s underground military facilities, command centers and its leadership[16] and is probably a variant of the extended-range Hyunmoo-2C missile currently under development.[17] Seoul has reached a de facto deal with Washington to revise their missile development guidelines so that it can double the maximum payload of its ballistic missiles.[14]

Notable events[edit]

On 23 June 2017, South Korea unveiled footage of a successful missile test launch of a Hyunmoo-2C missile. Unlike its predecessor, which had a maximum range of 500 km, the Hyunmoo-2C has a maximum range of 800 km and thus is capable of hitting any part of North Korea.[18][19] South Korean President Moon Jae-in was shown to be observing the missile launch at the time.[20]

On 4 July 2017, South Korea carried out a joint ballistic missile drill with the U.S. where they launched 2 Hyunmoo-2B missiles and 2 ATACMS missiles. The drill was seen as a response to North Korea's supposed successful test launch of an ICBM.[21][22]

On 4 September 2017, President Trump agreed to lift the 500 kg limit on South Korea's missile warheads. This would allow South Korea to develop and deploy missiles with a warhead weighing up to 1,000 kg. This would allow South Korea to target and destroy virtually all of North Korea's underground facilities and hardened bunkers.[23]

On 6 September 2017, South Korea's MoD announced the upcoming development of a new missile dubbed the "Frankenmissile." The hyunmoo missile variant would carry a warhead weighing up to 1,000 kg and would be used to target key North Korean sites both above and underground.[24]

During Donald Trumps visit to Seoul in 2017, US and South Korea agreed to eliminate any limit on South Korean missiles.[25]

North Korea paraded during military parade short range ballistic missile similar in design to Hyunmoo-2 on 8 February 2018 that is thought to have been tested in August of 2017 according to South Korean military source that disclosed details of the test to Chosun Ilbo.[26][27]


Hyunmoo Missiles
Model Range Payload Type Notes Deployment
Hyunmoo-1 180 km 500 kg surface-to-surface ballistic missile modified Baekgom -
Hyunmoo-2A 300 km 1,000 kg[28] surface-to-surface ballistic missile modified 9K720 Iskander[10][11] 2008[29]
Hyunmoo-2B 500 km 1,000 kg[4] surface-to-surface ballistic missile modified Hyunmoo-2A 2009[29]
Hyunmoo-2C 800 km 500 kg surface-to-surface ballistic missile modified Hyunmoo-2B 2017[30]
Hyunmoo-3A 500 km 500 kg surface-to-surface cruise missile - -
Hyunmoo-3B 1,000 km 500 kg surface-to-surface cruise missile modified Hyunmoo-3A 2009[29]
Hyunmoo-3C 1,500 km 500 kg surface-to-surface cruise missile modified Hyunmoo-3B -
Hyunmoo-4 800 km? 2,000 kg? surface-to-surface ballistic missile modified Hyunmoo-2C -


Missile Hyunmoo-1
Length 12.53 m (41.1 ft) overall
8.18 m (26.8 ft) at second stage
Diameter 0.8 m (2.6 ft) booster
0.53 m (1.7 ft) at second stage
Fin span 3.5 m (11 ft) booster
1.88 m (6.2 ft) at second stage
Mass 4,850 kg (10,690 lb) at launch
2,505 kg (5,523 lb) at second stage
Maximum speed Mach 3.65 (ca. 4,470 km/h (2,780 mph; 1.24 km/s; 0.772 mi/s))
Range 180 km (110 mi)
Ceiling 45,700 m (149,900 ft)
First stage Hercules M42 solid-fueled rocket cluster
(4x M5E1 Nike boosters)
978 kN (220,000 lbf) total
Second stage Thiokol M30 solid-fueled rocket
44.4 kN (10,000 lbf)
Warhead conventional T-45 HE warhead weighing
500 kg (1,100 lb) and containing 272 kg (600 lb) of HBX-6
M17 blast-fragmentation

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pike, John. "Nike-Hercules / Hyunmoo I / Hyunmoo II / Nike-Hercules Variant (NHK-1/-2/-A)". www.globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  2. ^ ""사거리 500km 국산 탄도미사일 '현무-2B' 실전배치했다"".
  3. ^ a b "RoK Missile Rationale Roulette". www.armscontrolwonk.com. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Hyunmoo-2B - Missile Threat". csis.org. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  5. ^ Trevithick, Joseph. "S. Korea Tests Ballistic Missile That Can Hit Anywhere Inside N. Korea". The Drive. Retrieved 2017-07-05.
  6. ^ ImpMK (28 September 2017). "Right: Hyunmoo-3 CM / Left front: Hyunmoo-2C BM (800km range) / Left back: Hyunmoo-2A (300km) or 2B (500km) BM. 2C is much bigger than 2A/B.pic.twitter.com/h06s24chUt". twitter.com. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  7. ^ 이영재 (23 June 2017). "文대통령 발사 참관 '현무-2C' 800㎞ 미사일…北전역 사정권". yonhapnews.co.kr. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  8. ^ "Hyunmoo-2C - Missile Threat". csis.org. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  9. ^ Pike, John. "Hyunmoo II". www.globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  10. ^ a b Keck, Zachary. "North Korea Isn't the Only Korea with Killer Missiles". The National Interest. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  11. ^ a b http://www.janes360.com/images/assets/316/37316/Korean_progression.pdf
  12. ^ Pike, John. "GLCM - Hyunmoo III / ALCM - Boramae / SLCM - Chonryong / Cheon Ryong / Ch'onnyong (Sky Dragon)". www.globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 2017-07-05.
  13. ^ Sang-Hun, Choe; Gladstone, Rick (28 September 2017). "South Korea Says It's Speeding Up Arms Buildup to Counter the North". Retrieved 13 December 2017 – via NYTimes.com.
  14. ^ a b "Army confident of destroying N. Korea with ballistic missiles at war". yonhapnews.co.kr. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  15. ^ Herald, The Korea (19 October 2017). "Army reveals plan to develop 'Frankenmissile' targeting NK".
  16. ^ "Trick or treat? South Korea's 'frankenmissile' would take out Kim Jong Un and his nukes". newsweek.com. 20 October 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  17. ^ Diplomat, Franz-Stefan Gady, The. "South Korea to Build New Ballistic Missile Targeting North Korea". thediplomat.com. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  18. ^ Trevithick, Joseph. "S. Korea Tests Ballistic Missile That Can Hit Anywhere Inside N. Korea". The Drive. Retrieved 2017-07-02.
  19. ^ Sang-hun, Choe (2017-06-23). "South Korea Tests Missile Capable of Striking Any Part of the North". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-07-02.
  20. ^ "Pres. Moon observes test launch of Hyunmoo 2 ballistic missile, part of "kill chain"". Retrieved 2017-07-02.
  21. ^ U.S., South Korea stage show of force after North Korea ICBM test Reuters, 5 July 2017.
  22. ^ US, ROK Conduct Precision-Strike Drill in Response to North Korean ICBM Launch: The U.S. Army and Republic of Korea military personnel test fired missiles in response to North Korea’s most recent ICBM test. The Diplomat, 5 July 2017.
  23. ^ "US and South Korea agree to end missile payload limits". New York Post. 2017-09-04. Retrieved 2017-09-17.
  24. ^ Smith, Nicola (2017-09-06). "The 'Frankenmissile': How South Korea plans to destroy the North's underground military bases". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2017-09-17.
  25. ^ "S. Korea, US Presidents Agree to Lift Limit on S. Korean Missile Payload". world.kbs.co.kr. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  26. ^ http://english.chosun.com/m/svc/article.html?contid=2018022101540
  27. ^ http://english.chosun.com/m/svc/article.html?contid=2018022201107
  28. ^ "Hyunmoo-2A - Missile Threat". csis.org. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  29. ^ a b c South Korea Works On New Missile Technology - Aviationweek.com, 1 June 2012
  30. ^ Diplomat, Franz-Stefan Gady, The. "Seoul Test Fires New Ballistic Missile in Warning to North Korea". The Diplomat. Retrieved 2017-07-05.

External links[edit]