Military Review

Non-nuclear deterrent: North Korean missile forces and artillery

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Demonstration shooting dedicated to the 85th anniversary of the Korean People's Army, April 26, 2017. 300 SPGs and MLRSs of various types were concentrated in one area. Photos of TsTAK


The Korean People's Army has a large and powerful rocket and artillery force. In the ranks there are many thousands of artillery pieces, mortars and multiple launch rocket systems of various types with differing characteristics. The KPA artillery is capable of solving all basic tasks and poses a particular danger to a potential enemy.

Development processes


The first artillery units as part of the KPA appeared in the second half of the forties. The training of personnel was then carried out with the help of Soviet military specialists and Chinese volunteers. Foreign allies also helped with the material part. This state of affairs persisted for some time and provided an initial increase in quantitative and qualitative indicators.


152-mm self-propelled gun M1974 at the 2016 parade Photo Wikimedia Commons

Subsequently, the DPRK, using foreign aid, built its own defense industry, which made it possible to solve the main problems with materiel. Licensed production was mastered, own samples were created and produced. Over time, not only barrel, but also jet systems were mastered. To date, the development of technology has led to the most interesting results. For example, an unusual 600 mm MLRS has been developed and put into service.

Now in North Korea there is a production of artillery systems of all main classes. This allows you to cover most of the needs of the KPA for guns and MLRS. In addition, it became possible to establish export. At the same time, the army shows frugality and keeps in service a certain number of imported guns and installations of various types.


The self-propelled gun M1989 "Koksan" is the most powerful model of the KPA. Photo Wikimedia Commons

According to The Military Balance 2021, the KPA ground forces currently have 1 artillery division, 21 artillery brigades and 9 rocket artillery brigades. In addition, mortar and other units are included in tank and infantry formations. The coastal troops also have their own artillery units.

In service there are at least 21,6 thousand artillery systems of all classes. The most numerous are guns and howitzers of various types in towed and self-propelled versions - in total, no less than 8600 units. In second place in terms of the number of mortars - approx. 7500 dmg. The number of MLRS is estimated at 5500 units.

Artillery units are distributed almost throughout the country. At the same time, the main attention is paid to covering the border with South Korea and protecting the coastline. It is known about the existence of multiple prepared positions, incl. protected from shelling.


Modern self-propelled guns M2018 at the 2020 parade. Frame from the broadcast of the DPRK Central Television

Samples in service


There are towed systems in calibers 122, 130 and 152 mm. These are mainly Soviet-made products or their Chinese and Korean copies. The 122 mm caliber features the A-19, D-30 and D-74 guns. The 130 mm M-46 cannon remains in service. The most powerful among the towed ones are the 152-mm howitzers ML-20, M-30 and D-1. It should be noted that in foreign literature, Soviet guns in the KPA most often appear under unofficial names indicating the year of release. So, A-19 is designated as M1931 / 37, and D-1 - as M1943.

There are more than a dozen types of self-propelled artillery units in operation with a gun of caliber from 122 to 170 mm. Basically, this is a technique of its own North Korean development. In most cases, we are talking about installing a ready-made and / or modernized weapon, incl. imported, on an available chassis. However, there are examples of a modern look, such as the M2018 self-propelled guns.

Of greatest interest in the field of self-propelled guns are combat vehicles known under the foreign name "Koksan". They are made on the basis of a copy of the T-55 tank and are equipped with a local-developed 170-mm howitzer cannon. This technique is used in the KPA and has been supplied to several foreign countries.


The simplest self-propelled MLRS: the Type 63 launcher on an accessible chassis. Photo Wikimedia Commons

The army has a significant number of basic caliber mortars. Products of caliber 82, 120 and 160 mm are used at different levels. These are mainly transportable or towed weapons. There are reports of the existence of self-propelled mortars based on serial chassis.

KPA rocket artillery is armed with a wide range of systems with different capabilities. The 107-mm Type 63 launchers of the Chinese design, as well as their modified versions, are in operation. At one time, the Soviet MLRS BM-21 "Grad" were received, then they were developed. It is known about the existence of complexes for missiles of 200, 240, 300 and even 600 mm caliber.

Unfortunately, there is no reliable and accurate information about the KPA artillery control systems. It can be assumed that the troops have spotter observers using optical devices and radio communications. Whether there are specialized armored vehicles for artillery reconnaissance with optical or radar equipment is unclear. Also, the troops need stationary or mobile command posts.


300-mm multiple launch rocket systems M1991 on parade. Frame from the broadcast of the DPRK Central Television

Apparently, the intelligence and command systems are built on the model of the Soviet ones that took place in the distant past. Due to this, you can get the required combat performance, but you have to put up with the restrictions. At the same time, their modernization cannot be ruled out with the help of friendly China, which has modern technologies. In this case, even outdated equipment and weapons will be able to show their best side.

Artillery advantages


The KPA missile forces and artillery have a number of important features that provide an advantage over a potential enemy. First of all, this is the number of weapons and equipment. So, the main enemy of the DPRK, South Korea, has no more than 12-12,5 thousand units. rocket and artillery weapons. The South Korean army bypasses the KPA only in the number of mortars - approx. 6 thousand units, while in other directions it is noticeably lagging behind it. However, it has modern mass-produced vehicles with a higher level of characteristics, such as the K9 (A1) Thunder self-propelled guns.

The KPA has artillery of all main classes, which allows it to flexibly solve a wide range of missions. Mortars of all types, cannons and howitzers with the required characteristics can be used on the battlefield. Large-caliber howitzer artillery and MLRS of all available types will be used to deliver strikes to great depths. Any guns and missiles can cover the coast from the landing forces.


The newest MLRS caliber 600 mm. A frame from the broadcast of the DPRK Central Television

With the help of field artillery, the KPA can attack targets at distances of kilometers. The most powerful 170mm artillery systems send shells 50-60 km. MLRS are capable of operating in an even wider range of ranges. 107-mm shells of the "Type 63" system fly at 8-8,5 km, and a promising 600-mm system, according to known data, shoots at 230-250 km.

It should be noted that North Korean artillery systems, in terms of their combat qualities, do not have any particular advantages over modern or older designs of other countries. However, even with the existing level of characteristics, guns and launchers are capable of solving the entire range of assigned tasks. Moreover, in some situations, 152- and 170-mm KPA guns are real strategic weapons.

The fact is that the South Korean capital Seoul is located just 40 km from the border. The city has an area of ​​over 600 square kilometers and is distinguished by a high population density. More than 10 million people live in Seoul itself, the population of the agglomeration is approx. 23,5 million. The largest city in the country finds itself in the engagement zone of a number of enemy missile and artillery systems. Moreover, any blow, regardless of its power and accuracy, will lead to disastrous consequences.


Demonstration shooting in 2017 Photo by TsTAK

The threat of a strike on the capital of South Korea is a powerful deterrent that has a positive effect on the situation on the peninsula. And the leading role in such a "peace process" is played by rocket forces and artillery. In this respect, they turn out to be more important than even nuclear weapons.

A key component of defense


Despite the known objective limitations, the DPRK was able to build a large and, it is believed, effective armed forces. In the recent past, it even received nuclear weapons, but the main tasks of deterring and countering the enemy so far fall on conventional weapons. One of the main roles in such a defense system is played by the "god of war" - artillery of all types and classes.


The M1974 and M1989 vehicles are firing. Photos of TsTAK

Using existing (known and classified), and then promising towed and self-propelled guns, missiles, etc., the Korean People's Army is able to cover all dangerous areas and protect itself from the enemy breakthrough, amphibious assault and other threats. At the same time, in a number of cases, guns and rockets can be used with high efficiency against objects in the rear of a potential enemy.

It is obvious that rocket forces and artillery are one of the foundations of the KPA's combat capability. In addition, they have become the most important instrument of non-nuclear deterrence and make a significant contribution to maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula. Pyongyang must understand this, and therefore should expect the continuation of the development of artillery and other troops. And these measures will help preserve the fragile peace between the warring Koreas.
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  1. Asad
    Asad 23 May 2021 05: 13
    -13%
    Not the most "cozy" neighbor. In case of aggravation of relations with Japan or the South Caucasus, naturally, at the suggestion of the United States, it will be necessary to intervene.
    1. Anachoret
      Anachoret 23 May 2021 07: 38
      +18
      and why is such a neighbor uncomfortable?) he does not climb to seize neighboring states) the most uncomfortable neighbor is evil and unpredictable)
      in this regard, the rhetoric of Ukrainian politicians is much more dangerous) well, or the Japanese recently)
      1. Asad
        Asad 23 May 2021 09: 58
        -16%
        Anokhored. Just a wonderful neighbor, with a nuclear baton. If there is a batch and we have enough without any claims on the territory.
        1. Alex_1973
          Alex_1973 24 May 2021 07: 37
          +4
          ASAD (Nikolay)
          Anokhored. Just a wonderful neighbor with a nuclear baton.
          And why does Eun not suit you? A nuclear baton? So we have China close by with nuclear weapons, and there is even worse not far off, these are Pakistan and India, and they will be much more dangerous than Nna.
    2. Peak
      Peak 23 May 2021 07: 38
      +4
      Video with a detailed analysis of the artillery component of the DPRK Armed Forces.

      1. oleg-gr
        oleg-gr 23 May 2021 08: 02
        +8
        Eun is just predictable. About the reunification of the two Koreas in one speech was earlier. But now somehow this topic is not being raised. But Trump's raids and the approach of aircraft carriers to the Korean Peninsula are well remembered.
    3. dauria
      dauria 23 May 2021 16: 24
      +4
      have to intervene.

      Don't worry, there is someone to intervene for the DPRK. Especially now that the US views South Korea as a close foothold against China.
      Actually, China's merit in the war of 50-53 is huge - in fact, it was they who broke the forces of the South Caucasus and the UN, led by the United States, throwing them back to parallel, losing more than 120 thousand infantry only killed.
      China would definitely like to unite Korea under its "sensitive leadership." The area is too dirty for them strategically, like a rotten tooth.
      1. Rostislav
        Rostislav 23 May 2021 22: 44
        +1
        All major players will strongly oppose this desire of China.
        Who would like such a new "neighbor" in the form of a united Korea, which possesses the finance and technology of the South and the nuclear weapons of the North?
  2. Angry Alt-Right
    Angry Alt-Right 23 May 2021 05: 18
    +6
    Artillery is artillery, but the real decision will be made by aviation, including drones! What is the use of MLRS or special calibers when the southern neighbor controls the air? Or am I just aware of the new Chinese and Russian aviation models in service with the DPRK? I have not seen anything fresh from the old MiG-29s. Otherwise, tactical aviation will simply fry a decent self-propelled caliber with a crust and more.
    1. Lech from Android.
      Lech from Android. 23 May 2021 05: 56
      -1
      What you will see with your drones in caves and shelters dug in the mountains.
      It is there that the military equipment of North Korea will be based.
      How will you pick them out from there?
    2. t-12
      t-12 23 May 2021 06: 12
      +5
      Open the map and measure the distance from Seoul to the contact line. And then consider the range of the heavy MLRS.
      1. abrakadabre
        abrakadabre 23 May 2021 07: 48
        +16
        Open the map and measure the distance from Seoul to the contact line.
        Why does everyone measure the situation in that region by the distance of Seoul to the border, and not by the distance to the main places of concentration / bases of the South Korean army and the Americans? As far as I am aware, genocide against civilians in general and large settlements in particular is a distinctive feature of modern bourgeois armies. Whether this is acceptable in the military doctrine of communist North Korea (adjusted for the Juche autarchy) is a highly unobvious and highly controversial point for me.
        But having cynically estimated the pros / cons of such tactics, I will say: North Koreans are hardly idiots to strike not at military targets, but at the civilian population in the squares. These are not Americans in Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the event of a conflict, it is important for the DPRK to deprive the southerners of their military (including American military facilities) and military-industrial potential as quickly as possible, and not to hit the peaceful people past it. Along the way, embittering the enemy and setting the whole world against himself.
        It’s just the Americans who will bomb every last hut in the dust. Despite the military expediency. North Koreans understand this very well. Examples of such sadistic maniacal cruelty are precisely the capitalist armies (West, Japan, petty-bourgeois Pol-Pot, etc.) over the past 100-150 years, a wagon and a cart.
        1. abrakadabre
          abrakadabre 23 May 2021 08: 07
          -3
          I would rather believe that in the event of a war, the Americans will drop a nuclear charge on Seoul and write off everything on the DPRK in order to free their hands for a total invasion. They are no strangers. Than the fact that the DPRK will methodically level the capital of the southerners to the ground. In case of war, the DPRK will have something to do besides this.
          1. t-12
            t-12 23 May 2021 09: 45
            +3
            And Russia, in the event of a war, will fired vigorous loaves strictly at NATO military bases? Or, without any snot, raze the largest cities of the United States and allies to the ground with hundreds of millions of residents of these cities?
        2. OgnennyiKotik
          OgnennyiKotik 23 May 2021 10: 07
          0
          Quote: abrakadabre
          Why does everyone measure the situation in that region by the distance of Seoul to the border, and not by the distance to the main places of concentration / bases of the South Korean army and the Americans?

          Times are now vegetarian, the cost of human life has become high, which is very good.
          From a military point of view, it doesn't matter where the cities are. Striking civilians was essential in the war of attrition to undermine industrial potential. Now the wars are short, after gaining air superiority, lasting several months. It is simply impossible to produce weapons and equipment to compensate for the loss.
    3. Peak
      Peak 23 May 2021 08: 02
      +1
      Quote: Angry Alt-Right
      Artillery is artillery, but the real decision will be made by aviation, including drones! ............ Or am I just aware of the new Chinese and Russian aviation models in service with the DPRK? I have not seen anything fresh from the old MiG-29s.


      Video about DPRK aviation



      Quote: Angry Alt-Right
      What is the use of MLRS or special calibers when the southern neighbor controls the air?


      Do you take into account the state of the DPRK's air defense?

      Unfortunately, there is no separate video about the DPRK air defense, but in the video of the 2021 parade, the North Koreans widely presented their systems, some of which are very similar to the S-300 lol
      1. Angry Alt-Right
        Angry Alt-Right 23 May 2021 18: 19
        0
        Quote: PiK
        Do you take into account the state of the DPRK's air defense?

        Do you take into account that South Korea buys the F-35 for a reason? Be that as it may, and anti-radar missiles have not yet been canceled.

        Quote: PiK
        Unfortunately, there is no separate video about the DPRK air defense, but in the video of the 2021 parade, the North Koreans widely presented their systems, some of which are very similar to the S-300

        Yes, the vidosik with the parade is colorful, there is such a thing. On parades you can roll out a lot of things, then who would argue. However, this does not say anything about quantity and quality. It's a pity that the theme as a whole has little texture! (
        PS What are Asians noisy! I remembered why I don't like onime! laughing
    4. sawic1
      sawic1 23 May 2021 14: 06
      +3
      Such a quantity will not have time to be destroyed before they have time to level Seoul to the ground, take Yemen as an example, they do not control the air at all, but they give back well, here it will be many times stronger
      1. Angry Alt-Right
        Angry Alt-Right 23 May 2021 18: 22
        0
        Quote: sawic1
        Such a quantity will not have time to be destroyed before they have time to level Seoul to the ground, take Yemen as an example, they do not control the air at all, but they give back well, here it will be many times stronger

        Here we will be talking about a full-fledged, combined-arms battle, and not the so-called. "low intensity conflict". Your analogy is incorrect because of this.
        As for the number of cities, then everything is not so simple here either. A human, if I may say so, a resource, in our time a thing is extremely difficult to replace, just look at the fertility rates per woman in different countries and compare with what it was before! Now there are few places where this business exceeds more than 2.1. All this I mean is that it is simply unprofitable to iron Seoul, purely for the sake of human sacrifice.
    5. svp67
      svp67 23 May 2021 18: 27
      0
      Quote: Angry Alt-Right
      What is the use of MLRS or special calibers when the southern neighbor controls the air?

      How to say. Need to sort out their "umbrella"? What forces and means are available to their air defense. And yet, two more points should not be disregarded, nevertheless, the DPRK has a significant number of artillery systems and all at once they cannot be "broken", and this means they will also harm and "break" what they are supposed to. And yet, most of the border area from the DPRK side is mountainous areas, in which, during this time, they managed to make a bunch of shelters, tunnels and protected firing positions
      1. Angry Alt-Right
        Angry Alt-Right 23 May 2021 18: 33
        0
        There is such a thing. But the + of such an infrastructure also has downsides. For example, labor input of reproduction and maintenance. In addition, parking lots, if they are explored, can be ironed more tightly.
        1. svp67
          svp67 23 May 2021 18: 44
          +1
          Quote: Angry Alt-Right
          In addition, parking lots, if they are explored, can be ironed more tightly.

          The identified ones, yes, but not the fact that they will destroy it immediately, but at this moment they will start to fire from those that were not opened, and within the radius of destruction there is a hundred of the Republic of Kazakhstan - Seoul and every 10 ... 15 seconds hundreds of shells will fly into its territory and missiles ...
          1. Angry Alt-Right
            Angry Alt-Right 23 May 2021 18: 55
            -1
            Quote: svp67
            The identified ones, yes, but not the fact that they will destroy it immediately, but at this moment they will start to fire from those that were not opened, and within the radius of destruction there is a hundred of the Republic of Kazakhstan - Seoul and every 10 ... 15 seconds hundreds of shells will fly into its territory and missiles ...

            So does South Korea have its own air defense and even missile defense? The Americans sold the ground version of Aegis to them, didn't they? At least they will be able to fight off the large ones if the reconnaissance of some of the parking lots is lost.
    6. paul3390
      paul3390 24 May 2021 16: 24
      0
      For 70 years, the Juche people have been stubbornly cutting off the whole country with tunnels and bunkers. There, go and everything is underground. Do not consider them idiots - their opponents have always had air superiority. And overwhelming. And they take this factor into account. From the presence of drones or penguins - the situation has not changed for them.
  3. Nikolaevich I
    Nikolaevich I 23 May 2021 05: 40
    +5
    I shed tears ... crying the style of the article fostered memories of youth! As if I was "a little" over twenty ... I was sitting on Monday morning in the "red corner" on "political information"; and a lecturer from Politpros reads to us about the friendly socialist DPRK! recourse
    1. Lech from Android.
      Lech from Android. 23 May 2021 06: 01
      +1
      Eun is better than the wobbly senile Biden anyway.
      Young, decisive, he defends his country without regard to the opinion of the world community ... he feeds all opposition to crocodiles and shoots from an anti-aircraft gun smile.
      For North Korea, you can be calm ... the Maidan does not threaten it.
      1. Peak
        Peak 23 May 2021 08: 17
        +6
        Quote: Lech from Android.
        Eun is better than staggering senile Biden

        You are too hard on Biden.
        He is just trying with all his might to demonstrate that he is unusually fresh and capable yes

        In the next video, where his "cheerfulness" was supposed to be demonstrated, he was supposed to show how he famously drives a new electric car.
        But upon closer analysis of the photos and videos https://twitter.com/ALF_rednecks/status/1395084242003152896 it turned out that Biden was simply imitating driving, and the car was being driven by another person with a second wheel.

        1. Narak-zempo
          Narak-zempo 23 May 2021 08: 31
          +2
          We need to give him a Lada Kalina, and let him make a rally from New York to San Francisco. Maybe it will crumble along the road laughing
        2. tralflot1832
          tralflot1832 23 May 2021 12: 46
          0
          Thank you for not looking at this photo carefully. I took it at face value, but it turns out that someone's handles really control a normal steering wheel. So in domestic and foreign policy, someone controls the can. Immediately I remembered the anecdote. (can be on the international arena, for example) Biden is driving past the wheel, Putin is standing in front of him with a stick! Biden stops, Putin hey you get off the wheel. Biden: I'm not shitting, I'm the President of the United States of America. from the steering wheel !!! laughing
      2. 72jora72
        72jora72 23 May 2021 10: 22
        +4
        he feeds all opposition to crocodiles and shoots from an anti-aircraft gun
        No, he is shooting the opposition with crocodiles, ........ from an anti-aircraft gun.
        1. Peak
          Peak 23 May 2021 12: 49
          +3
          Quote: 72jora72
          No, he is shooting the opposition with crocodiles, ........ from an anti-aircraft gun.

          No, he shoots as expected from an anti-aircraft gun, but crocodiles specially brought up in the spirit of Juche are assisting him.
      3. Pontiffsulyvahn
        Pontiffsulyvahn 23 May 2021 12: 25
        -6
        defends his country without looking back

        And what, someone attacked the DPRK? From whom and from what does he protect her? From Coca-Cola, the Internet and the opportunity to travel to Turkey in the summer?
        1. gsev
          gsev 24 May 2021 17: 24
          0
          Quote: PontiffSulyvahn
          And what, someone attacked the DPRK?

          If the DPRK had air defense like Gaddafi or Iraq, they would not have been attacked long ago in order to impale or rip off the head of its elite. It is with such goals that the West and the United States are waging wars. Nobody offers Coca-Cola to the defeated for free, but even a piece of bread. Now, if the invaders and their accomplices are effectively shot as in Afghanistan, then there and the local residents are treated with due respect.
    2. t-12
      t-12 23 May 2021 06: 09
      0
      But now the socialist DPRK has a vigorous loaf.
      1. Lech from Android.
        Lech from Android. 23 May 2021 06: 15
        +4
        Gaddafi and Hussein did not have a vigorous loaf ... now they bitterly regret it in another world.
        1. serg.shishkov2015
          serg.shishkov2015 23 May 2021 07: 03
          -6
          Gaddafi and without BoNba in 1984 could sink two American aircraft carriers in the Gulf of Sidra. According to law! they entered the Libyan terrorist forces and fell into the range of the S-200 air defense system. could not? afraid? who knows!
          1. Peak
            Peak 23 May 2021 08: 19
            +8
            Quote: serg.shishkov2015
            Gaddafi and without BoNba in 1984 could sink two American aircraft carriers in the Gulf of Sidra. According to law! they entered the Libyan terrorist forces and fell into the range of the S-200 air defense system.

            What to drown with missiles of the S-200 air defense system ???
    3. Monster_Fat
      Monster_Fat 23 May 2021 13: 29
      -2
      Oh, then. Kyn will throw all the shells and missiles of the MLRS. Uh-huh. In Karabakh, the Armenians have already tried to do this. The result is known. True, if Keun unnoticed (if he can) places all this and zhahnat in Seoul, then from one salvo the South Koreans will have sour there, given that Seoul is home to a quarter of the population of South Korea, then there will be monstrous casualties among the population. But on the other hand ... And on the other hand, the United States directly said that in such a case a response would come from them to Kynu, both nuclear and thermonuclear.
  4. Aviator_
    Aviator_ 23 May 2021 09: 27
    +3
    152-mm howitzers ML-20, M-30 and D-1.

    Howitzer M-30 has a caliber of 122 mm
    1. pin_code
      pin_code 23 May 2021 11: 36
      +1
      yeah, exactly 122mm, a mistake ... or inattention
  5. isv000
    isv000 23 May 2021 14: 58
    -2
    The tricky part here is that Seoul can be covered with one artwork, very guaranteed, and this is a good deterrent ...
  6. Prax1
    Prax1 23 May 2021 23: 18
    -4
    Just a pile of metal. In modern warfare, aviation decides. Whoever has air superiority will win.
  7. Decimalegio
    Decimalegio 24 May 2021 15: 29
    0
    Thank you for the article. North Korean artillery is an interesting topic. I'm a fan of Koksan. Even if I don't understand one thing. As for retaliation for the attack, I understand the fire over Seoul. But if North Korea attacked, what would be the point of hitting Seoul, a civilian target, in front of military targets? You would reveal your position and keep the enemy's potential intact.
  8. Eugene 1475
    Eugene 1475 24 May 2021 17: 36
    0
    Damn, if there is no normal air defense, then at least 1000 tables.
  9. Pushkowed
    Pushkowed 25 May 2021 04: 29
    0
    The most powerful among the towed ones are the 152-mm howitzers ML-20, M-30 and D-1.
    Since when did the M-30 become 152mm?