Tuesday, February 27, 2024

After Iran, will Russia also modernize the North Korean armies?

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Since the Panmunjeom ceasefire signed on July 27, 1953, the Korean peninsula has remained one of the most intense points of tension on the planet. The nuclearization of Pyongyang, starting with the first successful test of a North Korean nuclear weapon on October 9, 2006, then a first hydrogen bomb in January 2016, has considerably changed the status of this frozen but unfinished conflict in the absence of an official armistice. However, if the North Korean armies field considerable forces, with nearly 1.3 million men under the flag, 600,000 reservists, more than 4,000 tanks, 2,500 armored vehicles, 8,000 artillery systems and even 500 combat aircraft , as well as a ballistic and cruise missile force estimated at more than 3,000 vectors, this is almost exclusively composed of obsolete equipment dating from the 60s or 70s, and poorly modernized since due to international sanctions applied for more than 3 decades in the country, including through Beijing and Moscow.

In recent weeks, however, several reports, certainly difficult to verify independently but credible, indicate the possible delivery of ammunition and military equipment by Pyongyang to Moscow in order to support the military effort in Ukraine. This would consist, essentially, of artillery ammunition such as 122 and 152 mm shells, as well as 122 mm rockets for the Grad systems and 220 mm for the Ouragan systems, both used by the launchers. -multiple North Korean rockets. The consumption of ammunition is in fact a major problem for the two opposing camps in this conflict, the Ukrainians having for example a monthly consumption of 155mm shells of nearly 40,000 units, where the entire production of ammunition of this type in Europe does not exceed 32,000 pieces. If Russian pre-war stocks were considerable in this area, Russian artillery consumption of ammunition would exceed, according to observers, that of the Ukrainians by a ratio of 1 to 5 or even 1 to 10, in particular to compensate for the shortage precision of Russian artillery, so that, here again, the production capacities of Russian industry are not sufficient to compensate for the operational consumption of the forces.

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North Korea M1985 Defense Analysis | Nuclear weapons | Artillery
The North Korean armies use a large number of LRM M1985/1991, local production of Chinese copies of Russian Grad systems

If Moscow, like Ukraine, looked from the start of the conflict for international partners who could transfer equipment and munitions, the efforts of Russian negotiators were most often fruitless, and only 3 countries actually responded favorably to repeated requests. from the Kremlin: Belarus, Iran and North Korea. For Minsk, it was above all a matter of preserving Russian protection, the sole guarantor of President Lukashenko's regime. For Tehran, the strong support for the Russian war effort, it is true considerable with the delivery of thousands of Shahed munitions drones and, it seems, soon ballistic missiles, was accompanied by critical agreements on the modernization of the Iranian armed forces under sanction for several decades, and like the North Korean armies, overwhelmingly obsolete apart from certain capabilities such as missiles. Thus, several converging sources indicate that the 24 Su-35ES initially built for Egypt but whose delivery was canceled, could soon be delivered to Tehran while Iranian pilots and maintenance technicians would already be trained in Russia. Likewise, it would be a question for Iran of modernizing its naval forces by acquiring Russian-made ships, with in both cases a significant redefinition of the balance of power in the Middle Eastern theater.

LOGO meta defense 70 Analyzes Defense | Nuclear weapons | Artillery

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Fabrice Wolf
Fabrice Wolfhttps://meta-defense.fr/fabrice-wolf/
A former French naval aeronautics pilot, Fabrice is the editor and main author of the Meta-defense.fr site. His areas of expertise are military aeronautics, defense economics, air and submarine warfare, and Akita inu.

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