The first images of a test of the North Korean Pongae-5 strategic surface-to-air missile (SAM) system emerged on April 2 amidst a months-long flurry of highly publicized military tests and exercises. The system, which had only been known to have been tested once in 2011, shows a high degree of commonality with the infamous Russian S-300PMU SAM, and likely has similar capabilities.
First revealed during the 65th anniversary of the Workers’ Party of Korea on October 10, 2010, the Pongae-5 received the Western designation “KN-06,” and was for a time speculated by some to be a fake intended to mislead analysts. Nonetheless, reports of North Korea looking to acquire the system from Russia date back as far as early 2001, and a deal for permission and assistance to produce it was likely struck by the end of that year.
A suspected test of the Pongae-5 in early June 2011 saw a missile flying as far as 150 kilometers before falling into the sea off the DPRK’s west coast, confirming development was ongoing and indeed very much genuine. Although the SAM and associated radars and support vehicles were featured in several parades since, there were no further indications of additional tests, and it was unclear whether it had been deployed operationally.
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Featured image: Pongae-5 (KN-06) launch, March 2016 | Photo: KCNA
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