North Korea’s antique fighter jets still operational

North Korea’s missile launch schedule enjoyed a record-setting year in 2022, however their capital city Pyongyang has been utilizing its aging air force to keep nearby countries, and the United States, on edge also.

On October 6th, 12 North Korean jets were detected practicing air-to-ground drills close to the DMZ (De-Militarized Zone), which led neighboring country South Korea to quickly locate 30 of its fighters. Two days later, North Korea carried out a massive aerial drill allegedly involving as many as 150 planes.

On November 4, 80 South Korean fighters were scrambled after 180 North Korean planes were caught on South Korea’s radar. Then on December 26, five drones spent nearly five hours flying in South Korean airspace before returning to North Korea undamaged, with one of the drones briefly penetrating a no-fly zone over South Korean President Yoon Suk-Yeol’s office in Seoul.

North Korea’s air force is seen as the weaker part of its miliary, especially since several sanctions were imposed in response to their pursuit of nuclear weapons.

These sanctions have prevented North Korea from purchasing any new planes, spare parts and also jet fuel.  Pyongyang is currently in a position where it can only build light, single-engine propeller-driven airplanes.

North Korea did try to by-pass the sanctions when they attempted to purchase MiG-21s and spare parts illegally from Mongolia in 2011 and was able to purchase some of the 40 MiG-21s it ordered from a faction of Kazakh officials in 1999 before the government there prevented any more deliveries from taking place.

In 2021, Kim Jong Un pledged to manufacture new reconnaissance drones which are capable of flying up to 310 miles. Recent satellite images showed a potential new advanced model in development. 




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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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