Weapons and Equipment
North Korea produces no aircraft itself, although it does
produce spare parts for many of its aircraft. Its aircraft fleet
of Soviet and Chinese manufacture is primarily of 1950s and 1960s
technology, with rudimentary avionics and limited weapons systems
capability. In the mid- to late 1980s, the Soviet Union supplied
a variety of a limited number of more modern all-weather air
defense and ground attack aircraft. Most ground attack regiments
have older model Soviet and Chinese light bombers and fighters
with limited range and combat payloads.
P'yongyang was rather late in recognizing the full potential
of the helicopter. During the 1980s, the North Korean armed
forces increased their helicopter inventory from about forty to
about 300. In 1985 North Korea circumvented United States export
controls to indirectly buy eighty-seven United Statesmanufactured civilian versions of the Hughes MD-500 helicopters
before the United States government stopped further deliveries.
Reports indicate that at least sixty of the helicopters delivered
were modified as gunships. Because South Korea licenses and
produces the MD-500 for use in its armed forces, the modified
helicopters were useful in North Korea's covert or deceptive
operations. The transport fleet has some Soviet transports from
the 1950s and 1960s.
Data as of June 1993