The Hyunmoo, which stands for “Guardian of the Northern Sky”. This is a series of strategic missiles developed by South Korea.

The arms race on the Korean peninsula is still tense, both sides have produced the ultimate weapons to overwhelm the other. While the whole world focuses on North Korea’s ballistic missile arsenal, on the other side, South Korea also possesses a powerful line of ballistic missiles, called Hyunmoo 2.

The Hyunmoo, which stands for “Guardian of the Northern Sky”. This is a series of strategic missiles developed by South Korea. Hyunmoo 2 is developed based on the Hyunmoo ballistic missile that has appeared in the Korean Army’s payroll since the 1990s of the last century. The birth of the Hyunmoo-series ballistic missile in South Korea began with the signing of an agreement between the country and the United States in 1979, under which the US would provide technological assistance to South Korea to build missiles with a range of more than 179 km.

In 2001, the South Korean government announced it had developed a follow-up to the Hyunmoo, the Hyunmoo 2, with an increased range of up to 300 km, which is carried by a 4 axle transporter erector launcher. 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. If launched from the central region of South Korea, all of North Korean territory is under a 550-kilometer striking range. Its accuracy is 30 m circular error probable.

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

The missile is suspected to be a derivative of the Russian Iskander missile. From video and pictures published by the South Korean military and media, the 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. There is precedent for cooperation on missile technology between Russia and South Korea, Seoul’s KM-SAM air-defence system is based on the Russian 9M96E missile developed for the S-400 Triumf system; but there are also resemblances with the American ATACMS and Israeli LORA missiles.

The Hyunmoo 2 missile can carry various conventional warheads. The Russian Iskander-E is being offered with several different conventional warheads, including cluster, fuel-air explosive, bunker-busting and electro-magnetic pulse. The South Korean Hyunmoo 2 demonstrated use of bunker-busting warhead. This missile can also potentially carry nuclear or chemical warheads. Even though currently the South Korea in under US nuclear umbrella of protection, this country has all the necessary materials resources and technology to develop indigenous nuclear weapons in a time frame of just six months to three years.

The Hyunmoo 2 ballistic missile has inertial guidance system with GPS update. Most likely that this South Korean missile has a much more advanced guidance system than the Russian Iskander-E and has pinpoint accuracy. The Hyunmoo 2 missile is capable of hitting moving targets, as target coordinates can be updated while the missile is in flight. The missile travels at supersonic speed. In the terminal phase of the flight it excessively maneuvers and releases decoys in order to overcome hostile air defense systems. This ballistic missile can be launched in around 16 minutes from traveling or around 4 minutes from highest readiness.

The Hyunmoo 2 Transport-Erector-Launcher vehicle uses an 8×8 high mobility chassis. It is fitted with an armored cab, which provides protection for the crew against small arms fire and artillery shell splinters. Each Hyunmoo 2 TEL vehicle is supported by an associated reloading vehicle, which carries reload missiles. Also there are some other associated vehicles, such as command post vehicle, maintenance and repair vehicles, and so on.

The missile system is mounted on a diesel-powered launch vehicle with a maximum travel speed of up to 70 km and is said to have a range of up to 1000 km – meaning it can travel to all parts of the domestic territory of South Korea without refueling. With Hyunmoo-2, Korea’s strategic combat capabilities have been significantly expanded.


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