North Korea produces no aircraft itself, although it does produce spare parts for many of its aircraft. Its aircraft fleet of Soviet and Chinese manufacture is primarily of 1950s and 1960s technology, with rudimentary avionics and limited weapons systems capability. In the mid- to late 1980s, the Soviet Union supplied a variety of a limited number of more modern all-weather air defense and ground attack aircraft. Most ground attack regiments have older model Soviet and Chinese light bombers and fighters with limited range and combat payloads.
P'yongyang was rather late in recognizing the full potential of the helicopter. During the 1980s, the North Korean armed forces increased their helicopter inventory from about forty to about 300. In 1985 North Korea circumvented United States export controls to indirectly buy eighty-seven United Statesmanufactured civilian versions of the Hughes MD-500 helicopters before the United States government stopped further deliveries. Reports indicate that at least sixty of the helicopters delivered were modified as gunships. Because South Korea licenses and produces the MD-500 for use in its armed forces, the modified helicopters were useful in North Korea's covert or deceptive operations. The transport fleet has some Soviet transports from the 1950s and 1960s.
Data as of June 1993
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