The Pukguksong-2 Transporter Erector that launched the KN 11 mod 2 Ballistic Missile as reported by the media is of interest and note. We further explore this capability with an analysis from Nathan Hunt a long time MDAA Alliance member since the inception of MDAA.
“There are a lot of questions about what North Korea’s newest missile is capable of. However, what I find interesting is the TEL itself. It seems to be based off the domestically made Pokpung-ho Main Battle Tank; a fairly modern tank, comparable in functionality to the latest generation T-72.
It should be noted that while it appears that chassis used is of the Pokpung-ho Main Battle Tank chassis tracks are extended in length, The Tank has 6, the Tel has 8 wheels.
If you look at the chassis of the TEL without the turret, you will note the glacis plate of the MBT is the same as that on the TEL. Similarly, the track covers have the same slight upturn at the front, which is different from the older model Chonma-ho MBT. The wheel sprockets are the same as the Pokpung-ho. It indicates that North Korea is capable of producing TELs from their newest MBT chassis, and hints at the ability for North Korea to diversify armored vehicle roles under the same chassis, rather than a new vehicle for a new purpose.
It should be noted that the windows on the vehicle are bulletproof, of similar style to a Humvee. The armour around the crew section is similarly quite thick, and looks to be resistant to small arms.
The TEL arm itself seems to be of domestic design, with a rather crude steel weld on the underside of the launch tube, and duel hydraulic erectors similar to a Chinese DF-41 TEL. The tube seems to be thicker and pressurised, with a long cavity running down the length of the tube connected by two detachable pipes which pressurizes the inside. This indicates possible storage under pressure, but perhaps a non-pressurised launch state, as the nosecone is removed prior to launch. Yet, from the launch image, the missile seems to be blown out of the canister by a pressurized gas before the missile ignites. The missile itself bears striking similarities to the SLBM launched in 2016 but with sharper nose. It is likely that this is a recycled submarine launching tube configuration refitted for a land-based launch.
Overall, the maneuverability of the missile, even if only in its launch phase, coupled with a small arms resistant armored chassis, and tracked TEL movement indicate that this system, even if experimental, is able to launch closer to the battlefield, and in rougher terrain without requiring the concrete roads, dry garages and wide turning angles of North Korea’s wheeled TELs.
Ultimately, the fact that a one-time successful missile can be launched untested from a land based setting for the first time, with a new TEL system is a significant and unexpected development in North Korea’s Ballistic Missile Program, showing that the program is moving along at an increasingly successful pace.”
Mr. Nathan Hunt, COO of Strategic Sentinel
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