Is North Korea's Air Force a "Kamikaze' Force?

TNI Staff

Key Point: Are North Korean pilots as fanatical as their Japanese counterparts in World War II?

North Korea’s Korean People's Army Air Force (KPAAF)—referred to as the Air and Anti-Air Force Command in South Korean documents—is not in the top ranks of the world’s air forces.

However, the North Korean forces are fanatically devoted to Kim Jong-Un and the Kim regime—which more resembles a Confucian monarchy with Stalinist stylings than Soviet-style communism. The regime’s survival is their survival, and thus the so-called Korean People’s Army is a dedicated to their supreme leader and is likely to put up a fanatical defense in the event of a renewed war.

Even the antiquated junk that the KPAAF possesses can be used to good effect by a fanatically determined enemy.

Among the most antiquated and obsolete aircraft in the North Korean air force is the Shenyang J-5, a Chinese copy of the 1950s-era Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-17 Fresco. North Korea is thought to possess roughly 106 of the antiquated fighters. Another antique fighter in the North Korean inventory is the Shenyang J-6, a Chinese derivative of the Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-19 Farmer. The North Koreans have roughly 97 of the obsolete supersonic fighters.

Both the J-5 and the J-6 are hopelessly obsolete, and if anything, during regular combat operations would simply be missile sponges for American and South Korean fighters and surface-to-air missile batteries. In fact, that is perhaps not a bad mission for these aircraft—surface-to-air missiles and weapons such as the AIM-120 AMRAAM are expensive and inventories are relatively limited. Shooting them down would soak up vital inventories of interceptor missiles.

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