The North-Korean/Iranian Nodong-Shahab missile family
(based on the unknown Soviet missile  -  here provisionally designated as R-17K)

Norbert Brügge, Germany

Update: 04.09.2017

2015, Oct. 11 -- Iran has successfully test-fired a new domestically made long-range ballistic missile, the Islamic Republic’s defense minister, Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan said.
The new missile dubbed Emad is the latest generation of Iran’s long-range ground-to-ground ballistic missiles. It is the Islamic Republic’s first long-range missile with capability of guidance and control until hitting the intended target.
Probably this Ghadr-TR missile type has -- in compare to the Ghadr-H -- a changed propellant as well an upgraded engine.



The riddle of the North-Korean Nodong missile (probably Hwasong-8) was difficult to decode up to now. Pakistan and Iran use the Nodong to build there similar Ghauri-I and Shahab-3 missiles. In North Korea the Nodong vehicle was used for the first space-rocket Paektusan (Taepo-Dong 1). In the meantime upon base of an extended Nodong have builded North-Korea, Pakistan and Iran their next variants of missiles.
The Nodong missile is related to the Soviet R-17 (Scud-B) missile. But, the Scud-B uses TM-185 (Kerosene) / AK-27I (73%HNO3 +27%N2O4) as propellant.
The key to the problem was up to now the kind of the engine used for the Nodong. Recently were found further remarkable photos from the Iranian Shahab/Safir-engine. The engine is similar to the Scud engine. It is however ~140% larger formed. Also combustor and nozzle are different formed (area ratio 10.4 ---- 9.0).
With a meanwhile known diameter the rocket of 1.25 m can be valued a diameter for the nozzle of 62 cm. It is very improbable however, that North-Korea independently has developed this Scud similar stronger new engine.


Previously it was assumed that it could be an engine of the clustered Chinese engine YF-2. The engine YF-2 is used for the DF-3 missile. The propellant is however UDMH/AK-27S.
The mixing proportion of this components requires approximately equal large tanks. That is also the case at the Nodong missile and Safir IRILV, contrary to the Scud-B !

Meanwhile at first by Novosti Kosmonavtiki published sensational photos of the Chinese first stage engine YF-2 from the DF-3 missile. It is now confirmed that four single engines are combined with its own turbopumps. The shape of the chambers and the nozzles are more similar to the smaller Scud-B engine than to the Nodong engine. The Nodong engine has greater similarity to the Soviet four-chamber engine Isayev S2.1100 (Burya booster). In addition however clear differences between all engines are to be determined. In any case, this engine YF-2 is a creation of Isayev's design bureau. All the details are typical.

It is reported by KB Makeyev that the development of an operational tactical missile (code not known) was stopped in December 1958 in the preliminary planning stage. It should be a  R-17 similar missile with a longer range. Was the development later continued ?
An interesting reference for the origin of the Nodong  is a  drawing  for the manufacture of an engine, whose measurements and outlines equal the Nodong engine. It is possible, that this engine belongs to an unknown Soviet  missile, which exactly corresponds to the Nodong missile. Possibly the engine was constructed for the use of UDMH as fuel, as for the Isayev engine YF-2. These missile was not taken over however in the rocket arsenal of the Soviets, probably however exports to North Korea. This is realistic because Cyrillic letters were seen on a Shahab-3 (Nodong) missile.

A single Nodong engine has a thrust of approximately 280 kN (s.l.). That can calculated become with the kind of propellant, the quantity of ~11.151 kg and the burning time of 95 sec (Taepo-Dong-1 launch).
Pakistani Ghauri missile have a quantity of 12.912 tons propellant. It is calculated a burning time of 110 sec. The Iranian Shahab-3M (syn. Ghadr-1) has an equal dimension. The new Iranian missile is once more longer. It is used as first stage for the Safir IRILV. It is based on a stretched Nodong+ missile, which was used probably as the first stage of the unknown North-Korean  Paektusan-2.


A statement to the Nodong missile by Schmucker Technologie, Munich, Germany , 2010
"The Missile Show". Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Robert H. Schmucker & Dr.-Ing. Markus Schiller

“In 1993, four missiles were launched in the DPRK. The exact missile types are still not known for sure, but one is said to have been the first appearance of a new rocket that would soon play a central role in the 3rd World arsenals. This missile, designated Nodong by the West, looks like an upscaled derivative of the Scud. Main diameter is roughly 1.3 m compared to Scud’s 0.88 m, and the whole system is accordingly larger, heavier and offers more per10 formance.
In the same year, a number of Russian missile experts from the Makeev design bureau tried to emigrate to North Korea. This was prohibited by Russian authorities, but it is not known if they found another way to the DPRK.
Since 1998, Nodong can be found in Pakistan by the name of Ghauri, and in Iran as Shahab 3, where it first appeared at a military exhibition, littered with numerous Cyrillic markings.
Lucky chance revealed the true origin of the engine. In 2001, a Russian textbook was published in context with a training course for rocket production in Iran. This book contains the drawing of a manufacturing device for rocket engines. The decisive figures of the according engine – nozzle and throat diameter – perfectly match those of the Nodong engine, as photos of the Iranian Shahab 3 engine clearly show. It is a Soviet-Russian engine, and the characteristic details of the Isaev design bureau are clearly visible.
Engineering details and technical data of Nodong are strikingly characteristic for Soviet missile concepts of the late 1950s. At that time, competing design bureaus proposed, pre-developed and tested dozens of different missiles that never reached the state of serial production and disappeared in the fog of history. To give an example of the scale of Soviet rocket efforts at that time: Isaev alone developed more than a hundred different engines, of which several dozens entered serial production.
Thus, it seems clear that Nodong is an early Soviet missile, perhaps the little known R-18 (better is R-17K; R-18 was other project).”

Quote, 2012, March 15: “The Scud-engine (S5.2) and the Nodong-engine were both designed at Isayev’s OKB-2. The Nodong is not something North Korea developed by "scaling up" the Scud engine. The book: I know both of the authors of this book which contains technical descriptions for the manufacture of the Nodong engine; they both have seen the "Nodong" engine while working in Iran during the late-1990s. They have stated to me that what they saw was an Isayev engine, produced in Russia.”


Safir-0  intertank section with maintenance hatch


  Nodong (HS-8) Paektusan-1 Shahab-3 Ghauri-I Nodong+ (HS-9) Ghauri-II Ghadr-H  Safir-1 Safir-1B Emad
Length total ~16.0 m ~16.0 m ~16.0 m ~16.0 m ~17.0 m ~18.0 m ~16.5 m  -  -  ~17.0 m
Length without warhead/guidance ~11.5 m ~11.5 m ~11.5 m ~11.5 m ~13.5 m ~13.5 m ~13.5 m ~17.0 m ~17.0 m ~13.5 m
Diameter 1.25 m 1.25 m 1.25 m 1.25 m 1.25 m 1.25 m 1.25 m 1.25 m 1.25 m 1.25 m





Mass propellant (t) 12.912 11.151*) 12.912 12.912 14.670 14.670 14.670 18.790 18.790 14.41

 Isayev n.n. (1)

Thrust s.l. (kN) 279.8 279.8 279.8 279.8 279.8 279.8 279.8 284.4 329.4 329.4
Thrust vac (kN) 309.2 309.2 309.2 309.2 309.2 309.2 309.2 313.8 363.0 363.0
Isp s.l. (Ns/kg) 2383 2383 2383 2383 2383 2383 2383 2422 2628 2628
Isp vac (Ns/kg) 2633 2633 2633 2633 2633 2633 2633 2672 2898 2898
Burn time, nominal (sec) 110 95 110 110 125 125 125 160 150 115
Total vacuum impulse (MNs) 34.0 29.4 34.0 34.0 38.6 38.6 38.6 50.2 54.5 41.8

*) F= (mp * Isp) / t = (11.151 * 2383) / 95 = 279.8 kN


Refueling on-site



  Propulsion of the R-17K missile family

Nozzle of Ghauri missile engine (IDEAS 2006)

The Iranian Shahab-3 missile engine

Nodong engine dimensions


Injector plate of Nodong engine



  North Korean HS-8 (Nodong) and HS-9 (Nodong+) missile

Click here: TEL variations for Scud and Nodong missiles

HS-8 missile (first stage of Paektusan-1)





  Pakistani Ghauri-I and Ghauri-II missile




  Iranian Shahab-3 missile

Shahab-3 missile launch


Shahab warheads (incl. guidence section)

Shahab-3 with their different warheads

Shahab-3 with biconic RV (BRV)


  Ghadr-1 & Ghadr-H missile



                                                              The Ghadr-H is about 40 cm longer as Ghadr-1                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                               Smaller fins are typical

Ghadr-H with triconic RV

New Ghadr-H analysis



Ghadr Test-Rocket (Kavoshgar-1)

Gadr-H (not Gadr-F)


  Ghadr-F missile

In 2011 there was a missile exhibition in Tehran and for the first time there are exact specifications for several of Iran's missiles such as the Ghadr-F and the Sejil missiles. Also Iran displayed the specifications for the Qiam-1 and Shahab-2 as well. These have been accompanied by images. Also of interest is excellent close up images of the Sejil's engine exhaust area, showing it uses jet vanes.
Here is the link to said information:

Then, in 2012 was presented the short Shahab-3 missile with TRV warhead and small Ghadr fins, which is signed as Ghadr-F.

Sejil (left) and  new Shahab-3 with triconic WH side by side


Shahab-3 (Ghadr-F)