North Korea Table of Contents
The air force became a separate service in 1948. The air force adapted Soviet and Chinese tactics and doctrine to reflect North Korea's situation, requirements, and available resources. Its primary mission is air defense of the homeland. Secondary missions include tactical air support to the army and the navy, transportation and logistic support, and insertion of special operations forces. A large force, the air force also can provide limited support to ground forces.
In 1992 the air force comprised about 1,620 aircraft and 70,000 personnel (see table 11, Appendix). There are three air combat commands under the direct control of the Air Command at Chunghwa, one air division (the Eighth Air Division, probably headquartered at rang) in the northeast, and the Civil Aviation Bureau under the State Administration Council. The air combat commands, consisting of different mixes of fighters, bombers, transports, helicopters, reconnaissance aircraft, and surface-to- air missile (SAM) regiments, were created by integrating and reorganizing existing air divisions during the mid- to late 1980s. Decentralized command and control gave more authority to regional commands.
North Korea has approximately seventy air bases, including jet and non-jet capable bases and emergency landing strips, with aircraft deployed to about twenty of them. The majority of tactical aircraft are concentrated at air bases around P'yongyang and in the southern provinces. P'yongyang can place almost all its military aircraft in hardened--mostly underground--shelters. In 1990-91, North Korea activated four forward air bases near the DMZ, which increased its initial southward reach and decreased warning and reaction times for Seoul.
Data as of June 1993