APRIL the 15th is the first Paramount Leader of North Korea, Mr Kim Il Sung's birthday. To commemorate his 100th birthday last month, Pyongyang held a grand military parade, the typical North Korean way to celebrate monumental events. As a result of the high frequency of military parades, few new weapons have been displayed. There will always be new additions to the existing armoury every time a parade is held, but we military fans have been left an impression that those 'new' equipment has already existed and been planned to be unveiled on specific events. I did not watch the video footage of this event, and my observations are all made from a number of photographs.
My personal view is that in recent years, North Korea has fewer breakthroughs in technology, its weapons and equipment are kept on the same level for nearly a decade. Some equipment that appears to be new additions, but their first production and introduction in other countries can be traced back for years. I have also found out some interesting pieces, some of which we may not be familiar with, to share with you.
1) 9K111 Fagot (NATO reporting name AT-4 Spigot)
Loading vehicle should be the product of the UAZ (Ulyanovsk Automobile Plant), sinilar to the UAZ-469. For specific information, please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UAZ-469. But this is not the focus. This type of anti-tank missile was developed by the Tula Machinery Design Bureau (Tula KBP) and production began in 1970, production model named 9K111 Fagot, NATO reporting name AT-4 Spigot ( not to be confused with the AT-4 unguided anti-tank weapon of Swedish origin). When using 9M111M missile, it is capable of piercing 400 mm of homogeneous rolled armour (RHA), and only 230mm when the armor is tilted to an angle of 60 degrees. They would probably get a chance when attacking M48 tanks, but when attacking South Korean K1 series tanks? Although I do not have the data of the K1's armour, but my conclusion should be: powerless. Moreover, South Korea hopes to complement the existing K1 tanks with newly developed K2 tanks, meanwhile phasing out the outdated M48 series. This missile would also be unable to penetrate South Korean T-80U tanks, and can only be used to attack other armoured targets. Missile launchers are placed on open top loading vehicles with four men on board, two of whom are equipped with T-88/T-98 (AK-74) assault rifles,no machine guns are mounted on the vehicles. The members are so poorly protected, even infantry can easily deal with them, hence its survivability on the battlefield is rather low.
2) 9K310 Igla-1 SAM (NATO reporting name SA-16 Gimlet)
The truck-mounted quad anti-aircraft guns and dual SA-16 missiles with all female operators in the second figure seem rather special. However, it appears to be an old photo. The first photo was taken on the 15th, in which the soldiers are holding radios or maybe GPS scramblers. I need some help to identify the nature of this device. North Korea is able to produce the base models of SA-16 SAMs. Its original designer, Kolomna, said that it has an opportunity of 30% to 48% to shoot down targets with no countermeasures, typical performance of an SAM in the 70s.
3) RPG-7 Rocket Grenade Launchers
Only in North Korea, we see KPA infantrymen on a parade with RPGs. This almost makes it an North Korean speciality. the second photo was shot in previous parades, in which common PG-7 HEAT rockets are shown. In contrast, soldiers in the Apr 15th parade are holding launchers armed with 105mm PG-7R grenades, a fairly new design that emerged in 1988. It is equipped in relatively small numbers due to its high cost as a tandem HEAT grenade that is particularly effective against ERA (Explosive Reactive Armour). The smaller warhead on the front end would destroy ERA bricks and allow its main warhead to be undisturbed when attacking the main armour. Penetration ability is estimated to be around 600mm. This weapon poses a greater threat to South Korean K1 tanks, as compared to the AT-4 missiles just shown.
4) Newly developed Long Range Ballistic Missile
This is the first official debut of the new Long Range Ballistic Missile in woodland camouflage. However no official information is found. It is reported that China supplied the carrier of this missile with a possible range of 4500km. Wan Shan Automobile Factory, which has collaborations with a missile carrier producing factory in Minsk, exported the vehicles to North Korea. The three-stage missile has never been test-fired, making us suspect its value in combat. The failures of North Korean rocket tests proved that the nation is not capable in developing such long range missiles. Therefore it would be a success for this missile to fly and reach the target area, before we further question its accuracy. The camouflage patterns are rather in fashion compared to the Scud-like missiles the country has shown before.
5) Light Machine Gun, unknown model.
Look at this RPK-like light machine gun that plays the same role as the Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) in the US military. Folding stock, 30-round metal magazine are elements of assault rifles instead of light machine guns, while its long and heavy barrel, and the bi pod attached clearly indicates it is the North Korean counterpart of the RPK-74. Anyone know its specifications?
These are my personal observations of the parade, comments are welcome, as I have already posted it share with you.