N. Korean MiG-19 fighter jet crashes during training

Crash possibly caused by age, poor condition of Pyongyang’s air force
July 30th, 2014

A North Korean MiG-19 fighter jet crashed during a training exercise Tuesday, according to South Korean military officials.

The crash occurred near Taetan Air Base in South Hwanghae Province during a training exercise of the Korean People’s Army Air and Anti-Air Force.

All aircraft in North Korean airspace have reportedly been grounded since the accident occurred. Pyongyang is likely investigating the cause of the crash and taking other precautionary measures as well as inspecting the maintenance and condition of the rest of their aircraft.

South Korean authorities said that since it’s been more than 40 years since the introduction of the MiG-19, the accident may have been caused by the age and worn-out condition of the aircraft, but also could have been due to poor piloting skills.

The majority of North Korean aircraft are significantly older than those in most other air forces and KPA pilots receive very limited flight training, due to fuel and maintenance limitations. Recently, though, the KPA appears to have increased the frequency of its air force exercises, with the number of training flights doubling after North Korea’s third nuclear test in February of last year.

This is at least the third North Korean MiG-19 to crash this year. One reportedly crashed crashed earlier this month while another crashed earlier in the year.

North Korea currently operates both the Russian-made MiG-19, first developed in 1952 and produced into the 1970s, as well as the Chinese-made Shenyang J-6, which was built into the 1980s. North Korea is one of only three countries – along with Myanmar and Zambia – that still operate Russian-made MiG-19s. North Korea is believed to currently possess about 90 MiG-19s of both types.

Main photo: Beau Brendler, Flickr Creative Commons 

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About the Author

John G. Grisafi

John G. Grisafi is an analyst and Korean linguist from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Having previously worked as an analyst for the United States Army in South Korea and studied Korean at the Defense Language Institute, he is now majoring in East Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Join the discussion

  • Warren Lauzon

    It’s amazing how many of those they actually still have in service. I would assume that any spare parts would all have to be hand made unless they got a bunch of leftover parts from the USSR.

    • gravi55

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    • saveourmoney

      There’s no parts shortage, MiG-19′s were produced under license in abundant quantities by a number of manufacturers. The problem is most likely parts quality (if you have a million badly corroded ailerons, you still don’t have one that should be in service) and the skill / motivation of maintenance personnel. Skilled personnel with a strong safety commitment and abundant parts can keep old airplanes flying indefinitely. Hungry conscript labor with parts of dubious quality – not so much.

      Pilot skill could also play a major factor. The KPA likely doesn’t have the budget or logistics to provide high quality pilot training. The Cold War era MiG’s had very good performance for their day, but were not noted for their forgiving flying characteristics or systems reliability.

      • Warren Lauzon

        That makes sense, and with the large numbers produced there is probably a lot of old ones around that can be cannibalized.

  • gravi55


    • http://www.ping-pong.net Joe Ching

      go read the book MELTDOWN by cnn’s chinoy on north korea before sending out this type of hate message.

      • Scott McIntosh

        CNN is garbage and so is the DPRK

        • http://www.ping-pong.net Joe Ching

          just as bush is a born-loser criminal. why dont we outsourcing to china to bring bush to trial for his war crimes and financial meltdown.

          • Scott McIntosh

            President George W. Bush is a great man and was a much better President than the current boob in office you Kool Aid drinking commie.

          • http://www.ping-pong.net Joe Ching

            u sounded like u like to kill and also to suffer the meltdown. yeah, some of our 99% suckers in america do deserve what they like.

          • Scott McIntosh

            You sound like an uneducated fool to me. I am not one of the Sheeple I can assure you of that. You are on the other hand in the People’s Republic of Kalifornia so it’s no surprise to me that you are in fact a Kool Aid drinker. You live near Berkely but you are definitely not smart enough to have gone there! LOL

          • http://www.ping-pong.net Joe Ching

            i m a former professor at uc, berkeley, nuclear engineering dept.

            i m only trying to prevent america getting its ultimate 911.

          • Scott McIntosh

            So you are a smart fuck tard congratulations. Our ultimate 911 means we scorch the earth in response. I want to scorch Saudi Arabia myself and end ISLAM a religion of pure evil. My hope is that North Korea can peacefully reunite with its Southern neighbor someday.

          • http://www.ping-pong.net Joe Ching

            if u dont like another 911, try not to cause it again.

          • Scott McIntosh

            Oh well now there’s a brilliant response! Consider this fucktard. bin Laden was reported to have been preparing to hijack the aircraft for almost 10 years. That would mean that he was doing it during Bill Clinton’s Presidency. Right now OhBummer is creating that SAME circumstance. The next 911 will be on him and ANYONE that voted for him. Your hands are probably bloody from the first one since you likely voted for Slick Willy and mister Hope and Change. You make me vomit!

          • http://www.ping-pong.net Joe Ching

            no, i dont have any love for o’bum.
            but as to 911, i warn the guys on asiaweakly forum(out of san francisco) that they were due for a big spanking, supporting bush’s bullying policy about 2 weeks before 911 hit. and after 911 hit, those rednecks send in so much death-threat posts that the forum was forced to self-abort. well, then i could not save america from the meltdown.

          • Scott McIntosh

            What the hell are you talking about? Can you speak regular English or what? So sick of broken English on these forums. Don’t you have any pride in yourself to express complete cohesive thoughts?

          • http://www.ping-pong.net Joe Ching

            english has been used in lying than any other language. i m doing my best to trash it, as a service to humanity.

            but in ur case, the problem is mental, not linguistic.

          • Scott McIntosh

            You are the one that is the mental midget not I, in fact as a professor I am sure you aware of the saying that those that can’t DO end up TEACHING? Well pal I am a DOER!

          • Xavier

            This verbal exchange between the two of you may well be the most inane thing I’ve ever read on NKnews.
            Cheer up boys, life is short.

          • Scott McIntosh

            He started it. ;-) and I FINISHED it because I am a DOER!

          • http://www.ping-pong.net Joe Ching

            well,i taught at ucb, just to repay them for the full scholarship, covering all my living expenses in my underg years. but i sure trained many students to analyse, predict and innovate by drilling them in supercomputing. the best among my students followed me to create the most successful IT company before IT was born. we were actually the first cloud computing outfit working out of the boeing supercomputing center that resolved the problem of the 3-mile island nuke accidents.

            if u r really a DOER, join me to bring peace to north korea, after apologize to the north koreans of all the war crimes that we americans committed there.

          • Tom Servo

            Ching Chong Chinaman, sittin’ on a fence

            tryin’ to make a dollar outta fifty cents

            the grass grew tall, and tickled his balls,

            and he peed all over his overalls.

          • http://www.ping-pong.net Joe Ching

            yankee,donkee, monkee tom
            talking dumb like o’bum
            stinking up the world like skunk.

        • Warren Lauzon

          What do any of these stupid rants have to do with MIG-19′s or North Korea?

          • Scott McIntosh

            Wait a minute now I did say the DPRK was garbage.

  • Scott McIntosh

    A MIG-19? LOL, welcome to the 1950′s!

  • joshuagenes

    How do these compare with an A-29 Super Tucano?

  • madvet

    They’ve lost fighter aircraft before, even in the glory days of chief thug in charge K. ill sung, due to birdstrikes, pilot error and the usual mishaps. Training used to be among the most rigorous in the world, but now, most likely not.

  • Tom Servo

    “more than 40 years” – How about More than 60 years???

    This is like flying Sopwith Camels during the Vietnam War.

  • John Doe

    seriously…they still fly mig-19′s as their front-line fighters? May as well use paper airplanes. Our fighters would blow them out of the sky before they even see them.

  • Ron

    Hey you…Kim…ya……….pssst……over here!…Don’t look now, but while you’re parading all your 50 year old stuff around, that you can’t get new parts for, we’re waiting for that BIG Attack on us here in the USA. Word of WARNING!!!!!!! DON’T If you do, you won’t have to worry about feeding your starving subjects/military. We will dope slap you back to the stone ages…..(where you belong).