Pokpung-ho

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Po-ho
Pokpung-ho.png
Type Main Battle Tank
Place of origin  North Korea
Service history
In service 2002 - present
Used by North Korea
Production history
Designer Second Machine Industry Bureau[1]
Manufacturer Ryu Kyong-su Tank Factory
Specifications
Weight 48.8 US Short Tons (44,300kg, 97,665lbs)
Length Hull length: ~7 m
Width ~3.5 m
Height ~2.2 m
Crew 4

Armor Composite Armour
Main
armament
115mm or 125mm Main Gun
Secondary
armament
14.5mm KPVT anti-aircraft heavy machine gun
Engine 12 cylinder diesel engine delivering 1,000hp (suspected)
Suspension torsion-bar
Operational
range
~370-500km
Speed 60 km/h[2]

The P'okp'ung-ho or spelled Pokpung-ho (Chosŏn'gŭl: 폭풍호; Hanja: 暴風虎), which means "Storm Tiger" in Korean, is a North Korean main battle tank developed in the 1990s. The tank may incorporate technology found in the T-62, T-72, T-80, T-90, Type 88 and/or Ch'onma-ho MBTs.[citation needed] Outside parties codename the tank M-2002 because the tank went through performance trials on February 16, 2002 (therefore being officially confirmed by outside sources), although the tank may have been in existence since 1992.

The P'okp'ung-ho is only known to be used in North Korea.

Origin[edit]

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a significant number of T-72s were decommissioned from Soviet service and scrapped for metal. North Korea acquired some of these scrapped T-72s and obtained core technology for use on the P'okp'ung-ho through reverse engineering.[citation needed] North Korea is also believed to have obtained technology used in the Russian T-80 and T-90 tanks during this period, and may have utilized both this information and Chinese technology (reported to be from the Type 88 tank) to build the P'okp'ung-ho, with goals of creating a tank to match the T-90.[citation needed] North Korea's interest in the T-90 was demonstrated in August 2001 when Kim Jong-il visited the Omsk Transmash defense plant which builds the T-90 during his trip to Russia.[citation needed] It has also been reported that North Korea has acquired a single T-90S during the same period. North Korea may have since then used the T-90S as a reference to retrofitting the T-72s with parts from the T-90.[citation needed]

What initiated the need to develop a new tank was likely the poor combat performance the export variants of T-72 displayed during the Gulf War. Shocked at the destruction of Iraqi T-72s by western tanks such as the M1 Abrams, compounded with the fact that South Korea operates the K1 MBT, which has similar performance to the early models of the American M1 Abrams MBT, North Korea decided to significantly modernize their tank fleet to bridge the performance gap between their Ch'onma-ho MBTs and the South Korean K1 MBTs. However, economic struggles and a lack of several core technologies seem to have prevented North Korea from achieving high production numbers for the P'okp'ung-ho before the late 2000s.

Production history[edit]

The first P'okp'ung-ho is believed to have been produced in 1992 in the Ryu Kyong-su Tank Factory, located in Sinhung, South Hamgyong Province.[3] The capabilities of later variants have been augmented significantly.[4] Because of North Korea's limited industrial capability, compounded by the fact that North Korea has also spent most of the resources allotted for the development of the P'okp'ung-ho on their nuclear program, North Korea was believed to possess fewer than 250 of these tanks in 2007. However, production seems to have picked up starting in 2010. The tank was witnessed by parties outside of North Korea in 2002 and thus codenamed the M-2002. The P'okp'ung-ho was shown to the public during a North Korean parade in 2010, as well as during military exercises in 2012.

Design characteristics[edit]

Unclassified images of the P'okp'ung-ho finally surfaced in 2010, which showed the tank design appeared to be developed from the later models of the Chonma-ho and influenced by the Type 85 and the T-72. The P'ok'pung-ho has better mobility, survivability and firepower than the Ch'onma-ho.[5]

Armament[edit]

The P'okp'ung-ho's primary armament is almost certainly the 115 mm 2A20 in early examples; however, later versions seemed to be armed with the 2A26/2A46 125mm smoothbore gun.[5] which fires AP rounds produced in North Korea. The tank also has a heavy KPV anti-aircraft machine gun and a coaxial machine gun, as well as four smoke grenade launchers on the each side of the turret. It is possible, although unconfirmed, that the tank has the capability to fire ATGM's like other Russian lineage MBT's.[4]

Hull/Armor[edit]

The chassis of the Pokpung-ho are similar to those of a T-62, but are heavily modified with greater length and an additional pair of roadwheels. The engine compartment and the layout show some resemblance to a T-72 hull. The glacis plate of the Pokpung-ho is heavily sloped and protected by appliqué armor in the initial version with ERA added in later versions. The turret is reinforced with wedge-shaped armor modules in Pokpung-Ho I and seems to be protected by Composite Armour similar to the "Super Dolly Parton" on later model T-72s in Pokpung-Ho II with ERA added in Pokpung-Ho III. The panels along the tracks seem to be made of a light laminar armour.[4]

Engine[edit]

Although the horsepower of the P'okp'ung-ho's engine has been speculated to be as high as 1500, the engine is likely to have around 1000-1100 horsepower. It has been reported that North Korea rejected developing the 1,250 hp (930 kW) engine of the T-80, judging that it would not be suitable for a tank engagement within the narrow, mountainous terrain of Korea, and that it would prove to be of little difference on defensive missions. During aggressive missions, the P'okp'ung-ho can quickly engage the enemy due to its already excellent speed and acceleration, which is the basis of North Korean tank tactics.

Internal systems[edit]

The Fire Control System of the P'okp'ung-ho is relatively modern and based on the presence of a meteorological mast is almost certainly computerized, and some reports claim that it may be based on the vastly superior, if aging Chieftain FCS, which Iran may have illegally exchanged for North Korean Technology. If the P'okp'ung-ho's FCS is based on the T-72's, it may implement the PNK-3 or PNK-4 day and night sighting system with the 1K13-49 periscope combined passive/active sight guidance system.

The P'okp'ung-ho also has an infrared sensor (TPN-3-49 or TPN-4), a laser rangefinder and a search light, all of which allow the P'okp'ung-ho to operate during the night. Although the quality of the equipment are likely inferior to the South Korean counterparts, the P'okp'ung-ho is believed to be a considerable threat at medium/short range engagements, although lacking when firing from long ranges at night.

A meteorological mast has been fitted, fold-able panels above the first and second road wheels.

Models[edit]

Pokpung-Ho I - The Initial Variant. Armed with the 115 mm 2A20 gun from the T-62 series and equipped with applique and spaced armor. First observed publicly during the spring of 2010.[4]

Pokpung-Ho II - A variant with heavily improved armament and protection, the Pokpung-Ho II mounts a 125 mm 2A26/46 smoothbore gun and has a new turret seemingly augmented with composite armour. ERA was also fitted on the front glacis. First observed publicly during the October 10, 2010 military parade. SA-7 MANPADS can also be fitted.[4]

Pokpung-Ho III - Currently the most advanced variant of the Pokpung-Ho, this version possesses most of the traits of the Pokpung-Ho II but has additional Reactive armour on the turret front and forward part of the turret roof.[4]

Pokpung-Ho IV - An Upgrade of the Pokpong-Ho I rather than II or III. 2 AT-5 Spandrel launchers fitted above main armament and 1 SA-16 MANPADS fitted on the turret rear.

Operators[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Bermudez Jr., Joseph S. (2001-03-14). The Armed Forces of North Korea. I.B. Tauris. ISBN 1-86064-486-4. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]