November 29, 2023

The An-2: N. Korea’s surprisingly capable Soviet-era biplane

Old aircraft design highly effective, important N. Korean threat capability

There has been much reporting on the poor state of the North Korean air force, particularly in terms of the condition of its aircraft fleet. This is mostly attributed to the age of their aircraft, maintenance issues, and the very limited amount of training the airmen receive. These issues have especially been highlighted in the wake of recent crashes of North Korean fighter jets.

It is mostly true that the Korean People’s Army Air Force is heavily burdened by shortages of fuel and spare parts, which cause deficiencies in maintenance and limit the flying time of its aircraft, thus affecting pilot skill. There is, however, at least one type of aircraft – along with the units and airman who operate it – that is an exception: the Antonov An-2.