What is the weak point of Kim Jong-un’s military forces

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a welcome ceremony and reviews an honor guard at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi (Manan VATSYAYANA/ AFP) (MANAN VATSYAYANA/)

North Korea called their salvo of record-breaking missile launches last week “just a response” to large military air exercises they conducted USA Y South Korea.

Pyongyang he always condemns the joint military exercises of Seoul and Washington, which he considers to be rehearsals for an invasion, but he is especially sensitive to aerial maneuvers.

That’s because the north korean air force is he weak point of its military apparatusaccording to experts.

The following is a look at that military branch, officially known as Air and Anti-Air Force of the Korean People’s Army (KPA).

How many planes do they have?

The EPC air force has more than 900 fighter planes, 300 transport planes Y 300 helicoptersaccording to an assessment published last year by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) of the Pentagon.

But most of their fighters and bombers are obsolete either almost obsoleteacquired decades ago generally from the Soviet Union and China.

Even the most powerful ships in his fleet, the mig-29 Soviets, were acquired at the end of the 1980s.

A Russian-made MiG-29 during an exhibition at a base in Slovakia.  (REUTERS/David W Cerny)
A Russian-made MiG-29 during an exhibition at a base in Slovakia. (REUTERS/David W Cerny) (DAVID W CERNY/)

But those estimates do not “represent the smaller ‘active’ fleet with an unknown number retired or stored for a long time and that may not fly again,” he explains. AFP joseph dempseyresearcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

North Korea is believed to be rotating its fleet, “between aging and obsolete”, in and out of storage “to keep it functional and also manage its useful life”, it adds.

And their pilots?

North Korea “It does not have the capacity to pay for enough fuel, maintenance costs or properly train its pilots.”, according to a 2020 IISS report.

Without enough fuel and therefore without enough flight hours, its pilots cannot learn or even maintain their combat readiness, according to analysts.

North Korean fighter pilots have 15 to 25 hours of flight each year, calculate the DIA.

North Korea - defense - Air Force - aviation
In this file photo taken on September 25, 2016, a pilot poses with a Sukhoi plane during the second day of the Wonsan Friendship Air Festival in North Korea. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) (STRINGER /)

The North Korean air force is so far behind that it is “just not comparable” to other countries, says Ahn Chan-il, a North Korean studies specialist.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the North’s air force is a ‘air force on the ground’ and that hardly anyone has adequate training,” he says.

How did it get so weak?

North Korea had “twice the airpower of the South in the 1970s, according to a 2013 report by the Seoul Institute of Military History.

At that time, the North Korean air force sent aid to Hanoi during the Vietnam War and supported Syria Y Egypt during the yom kippur war of 1973, he points out.

But the fall of Soviet Uniona crucial source of financial and military support, coupled with the deterioration of its own economy, left North Korea mired in poverty by 1990.

Russia established diplomatic relations with Seoul (in 1991) and partly because of this, Moscow decided to stop giving the military support that the Soviets usually offer,” he tells AFP Chun In-bum, a retired South Korean Army general.

Pyongyang also faces harsh penalties for his nuclear weapons and missile programmaking it difficult for it to find the resources to build and maintain modern conventional forces.

A missile launch in an undisclosed area of ​​North Korea last October (KCNA via REUTERS)
A missile launch in an undisclosed area of ​​North Korea last October (KCNA via REUTERS) (KCNA /)

“North Korea decided to focus entirely on the development of its nuclear program”, emphasizes Chun.

It was a “strategic” decision. Pyongyangdelimit Yang Moo-jinprofessor at the University of North Korean Studies.

“North Korea’s best card to negotiate with the world is nuclear weapons,” he adds.

How does it compare to other forces?

In the unlikely event of a dogfight with South Korea either USAthe northern air force would look “seriously outclassed”says Daniel Pinkston, a professor at Troy University in Seoul.

“In an intense conflict with combined South Korean and US forces … North Korea’s air power and air defense would be degraded very quickly,” he said.

The difference in resources and technology became clear last week during the latest joint maneuvers of Washington and Seoulcalls Storm Watcherwith some of the most advanced aircraft in the world.

South Korea - United States - Exercises
Two US Air Force B-1B heavy bombers (C), four South Korean Air Force F-35 fighter jets, and four US Air Force F-16 fighter jets flying over South Korea during a joint air drill called “Storm Watcher” (South Korean Defense Ministry/AFP) (HANDOUT/)

American and South Korean pilots used aircraft F-35long range bombers B-1B and tankers for refueling mid-flight.

Last week, many of North Korea’s missile launches simulated the destruction of enemy air bases.

North Korea considers it important to first strike and neutralize the air bases because their air force is weak”, adds Cheong Seong-chang, a researcher at the Sejong Institute.

(With information from AFP)

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