Monday, May 12, 2014

North Korea's VVIP Il-62, camo MiG-21bis, rocket-firing An-2s & more

North Korea's state media agency KCNA has reported that leader Kim Jong-Un has visited a Korean People's Air Force (KPAF) airbase in North Korea's Western Region to observe a KPAF inter-unit air-to-ground attack competition. Several photos were also published of the exercise, giving a rare insight into the KPAF's equipment.

Kim arrived in a specially marked Ilyushin Il-62, specially marked up for VVIP transport duties a la Air Force One.

Also shown was this KPAF MiG-23ML "Flogger-G" interceptor carrying a pair of UB-16-57UMP rocket pods capable of carrying 16 S-5 57mm unguided rockets. Note the lineup of green An-2s in the background.

And this is a rarity: A camouflaged KPAF MiG-21bis. Most of North Korea's MiG-21s are earlier generation aircraft, and left unpainted. This would presumably be one of around 30 MiG-21MF/bis surreptitiously acquired from Kazakhstan in the late 1990s.

Both the MiG-21 and MiG-23 appear to carry a marking of some sort on their starboard nose. I wish the photos were more side-on, and clearer! These, and more photos can be found at this blog (in Russian).

And a video of the event was released by KCNA (via SkyNews) as well. Included are scenes of KPAF An-2 Colts firing rockets. North Korea operates several hundred An-2s and their Chinese-built equivalent, the Y-5. In the event of war it is believed they will be tasked with special operations, inserting North Korean commandos deep inside South Korea, using their slow-speed and handling qualities to evade radar by flying at extremely low level.

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