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Thread: The Pok'pung-Ho II-IV Photos and Discussion thread

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    Junior Member Kpablogger's Avatar
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    Default The Pok'pung-Ho II-IV Photos and Discussion thread


    The Pokpung-Ho II

    The Pokpung-Ho III

    The Pokpung-Ho IV

    Hello, I am the author of the North Korean military blog www.kpablogger.tumblr.com. I am intrested in provoking some discussion on the capabilities of the later model Pokpung-Ho (II-IV) tanks. While Bermudez at KPA Journal did an excellent analysis on the first version and indeed I offered my own opinion on the Pokpung-Ho III it would be intresting to see what others think. I should note that the Pokpung-Ho IV has yet to be seen in operational service and has only been seen in mockup, but it is worth discussing nonetheless. So my question is: What is your opinion on the capabilities of the later model Pok'pung-ho tanks?
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    Senior Member Damian90's Avatar
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    Definetly in terms of Fire Control System the tanks seems to be better than T-62 and it's other North Korean derivatives like Chonma-Ho variants.
    In terms of firepower it is probably also better and armed with 125mm gun not 115mm. Of course depending on ammunition avaiable to KPA, will depend overall effectivenes of the vehicle firepower. I doubt that they have even medicore ammo, rather different clones of 1960's and 1970's, in best case 1980's level of ammunition.

    The protection is interesting tough, not a match for South Koreans and US of course, but it seems that these tanks are first attempts of North Korea to use sort of spaced and composite armors. Pokpung-Ho seems to use similiar concept as some Soviet T-xx tanks with cast turrets. Also the latest variants show ERA mounted to the turrets.

    So as far as these are for todays standards obsolete tanks, not a match for South Korean K1, K1A1 and K2, as well as for US Army M1A2SEP v2's used by 2ID in that theater, still well handled by trained crews, these KPA tanks can be dangerous and should not be ignored and underestimated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Damian90 View Post
    Definetly in terms of Fire Control System the tanks seems to be better than T-62 and it's other North Korean derivatives like Chonma-Ho variants.
    In terms of firepower it is probably also better and armed with 125mm gun not 115mm. Of course depending on ammunition avaiable to KPA, will depend overall effectivenes of the vehicle firepower. I doubt that they have even medicore ammo, rather different clones of 1960's and 1970's, in best case 1980's level of ammunition.

    The protection is interesting tough, not a match for South Koreans and US of course, but it seems that these tanks are first attempts of North Korea to use sort of spaced and composite armors. Pokpung-Ho seems to use similiar concept as some Soviet T-xx tanks with cast turrets. Also the latest variants show ERA mounted to the turrets.

    So as far as these are for todays standards obsolete tanks, not a match for South Korean K1, K1A1 and K2, as well as for US Army M1A2SEP v2's used by 2ID in that theater, still well handled by trained crews, these KPA tanks can be dangerous and should not be ignored and underestimated.
    It does depend to a large extent on the ammunition quality how effective these tanks will be. However, we know nothing about North Korean ammunition so thats unpredictable. I would believe that the K1A1, K2, and M1A2 are superior to the Pok'pung-Ho III; however, the K1 I would rate as roughly equivelant to the Pok'pung-ho III on the Korean Peninsula for a couple of reasons. 1. The heavy ERA and (Probable) heavy, if primitive, composite armour is likely to cause problems for the old Royal Ordinance L7's on K1's if it has a frontal RHA equivelancy comperable to the T-72B. 2. While the Fire Control system on the Pok'pung-ho III is inferior overall to the k1's (Essentially it's early 1980's Soviet Tech) it is probably equivelant or nearly so at the limited combat ranges (<1200 Meters) likely in the mountains and urban areas on the Korean Peninsula.

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    Senior Member Damian90's Avatar
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    It does depend to a large extent on the ammunition quality how effective these tanks will be. However, we know nothing about North Korean ammunition so thats unpredictable.
    I doubt that they have anything on a even medicore level. Even todays most widespread APFSDS ammunition from 125mm smoothbores is not very good, The 3BM42 is estimated for 520mm at 2km 3BM42M is estimated as 600-650mm at 2km and 3BM46 is estimated as 650mm at 2km of course these are only estimations and for ideal conditions, guaranteed performance is allways lower. Chinese APFSDS are not better, Type-II is estimated as 550mm at 2km and Type-IIM based on Israeli technology as 600mm at 2km, so it is not enough to perforate modern tanks armor from the front.

    I would believe that the K1A1, K2, and M1A2 are superior to the Pok'pung-Ho III; however, the K1 I would rate as roughly equivelant to the Pok'pung-ho III on the Korean Peninsula for a couple of reasons. 1. The heavy ERA and (Probable) heavy, if primitive, composite armour is likely to cause problems for the old Royal Ordinance L7's on K1's if it has a frontal RHA equivelancy comperable to the T-72B.
    There is avaiable very potent APFSDS ammunition for the L7/M68/KM68 105mm rifled guns. For example M900 is estimated as 520mm at 2km, T-2 HP as 560mm at 2km and OFL105F2 as 520mm at 2km, so there is possibility to at least perforate front hull, and weak zones of both hull and turret.

    2. While the Fire Control system on the Pok'pung-ho III is inferior overall to the k1's (Essentially it's early 1980's Soviet Tech) it is probably equivelant or nearly so at the limited combat ranges (<1200 Meters) likely in the mountains and urban areas on the Korean Peninsula.
    This is a valid argument when it comes to the accuracy alone, but there also such issues like reaction time from target being found, identified and engaged. Currently all tanks used by South Korea (besides M48's) and US Army have hunter killer capabilities, North Korean tanks do not have such.

    Also there is problem of the enviroment, the battlefield is mostly dusty, there is smoke, sometimes fogs etc. Good thermals are nececity, North Korean tanks do not have such.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Damian90 View Post
    I doubt that they have anything on a even medicore level. Even todays most widespread APFSDS ammunition from 125mm smoothbores is not very good, The 3BM42 is estimated for 520mm at 2km 3BM42M is estimated as 600-650mm at 2km and 3BM46 is estimated as 650mm at 2km of course these are only estimations and for ideal conditions, guaranteed performance is allways lower. Chinese APFSDS are not better, Type-II is estimated as 550mm at 2km and Type-IIM based on Israeli technology as 600mm at 2km, so it is not enough to perforate modern tanks armor from the front.



    There is avaiable very potent APFSDS ammunition for the L7/M68/KM68 105mm rifled guns. For example M900 is estimated as 520mm at 2km, T-2 HP as 560mm at 2km and OFL105F2 as 520mm at 2km, so there is possibility to at least perforate front hull, and weak zones of both hull and turret.



    This is a valid argument when it comes to the accuracy alone, but there also such issues like reaction time from target being found, identified and engaged. Currently all tanks used by South Korea (besides M48's) and US Army have hunter killer capabilities, North Korean tanks do not have such.

    Also there is problem of the enviroment, the battlefield is mostly dusty, there is smoke, sometimes fogs etc. Good thermals are nececity, North Korean tanks do not have such.
    Valid points all. I suppose I should clarify. I believe that both the Pokpung-Ho III and the K1 will have difficulties penetrating each others frontal armour. Assuming the Pokpung-Ho III has a RHA equivelancy close to the T-72B (A reaasonable guess IMHO) of 600-700 mm (Vs KE rounds) RHA the K1 should need to hit weak spots like the mantlet at longer ranges just like the Pokpung-Ho would have to aim for weak spots on the K1 (RHA equivelancy 600 mm vs KE). You are also quite correct on the Thermals and nightvision as being the weak link in the more modern DPRK FCS (Laser Rangefinder+Computerized FCS+IR Searchlight). It is worth noting that those M48's still make up 1/3rd of the SK Tank force.

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    I believe that both the Pokpung-Ho III and the K1 will have difficulties penetrating each others frontal armour. Assuming the Pokpung-Ho III has a RHA equivelancy close to the T-72B (A reaasonable guess IMHO) of 600-700 mm (Vs KE rounds)
    There are two problems. First is that RHA equivalent for messuring composite armor protection levels is not reliable, the same goes for RHA penetration levels for modern APFSDS penetrators. I have some insight in to some unofficial but very credible sources. They says for example that some types of ammunition will have better performance against RHA but very poor one against composite armor, and some are opposite, and have worse against RHA and better against composite.

    Also as for vehicle protection, I would ignore all these estimations, these are unreliable assumptions, such informations are classified... of course You can guess the protection levels on Your own if You have access to... well let's call them reliable sources.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Damian90 View Post
    There are two problems. First is that RHA equivalent for messuring composite armor protection levels is not reliable, the same goes for RHA penetration levels for modern APFSDS penetrators. I have some insight in to some unofficial but very credible sources. They says for example that some types of ammunition will have better performance against RHA but very poor one against composite armor, and some are opposite, and have worse against RHA and better against composite.

    Also as for vehicle protection, I would ignore all these estimations, these are unreliable assumptions, such informations are classified... of course You can guess the protection levels on Your own if You have access to... well let's call them reliable sources.
    Fair. What do you think (Assuming it goes into production) of the inclusion of 2x ATGM's and the remote controlled MANPADS on the Pok'pung-Ho IV?

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    It depends, if these ATGM's are actually GLATGM's fired from main gun, then it is a good step ahead, if they are placed outside however, then I don't know, these makes them more vurnable to damage from shrapnels, small arms etc. As for MANPADS, I also do not know if there is any sense in this, I would rather invest money in to SPAAG's with automatic cannons and missiles like Tunguzka or Pantsir that are much more capable to defend formations from air attacks than MANPADS.

    I see these solutions more as a desperation and attempt to improve troops morale, than anything really usefull.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Damian90 View Post
    It depends, if these ATGM's are actually GLATGM's fired from main gun, then it is a good step ahead, if they are placed outside however, then I don't know, these makes them more vurnable to damage from shrapnels, small arms etc. As for MANPADS, I also do not know if there is any sense in this, I would rather invest money in to SPAAG's with automatic cannons and missiles like Tunguzka or Pantsir that are much more capable to defend formations from air attacks than MANPADS.

    I see these solutions more as a desperation and attempt to improve troops morale, than anything really usefull.
    Its actually a little puzzling to me why the North Koreans have not designed or copied a modern system like the Tunguzka. Gven the production of solid and fairly modern SAM's like the KN-06 and decent SPAAG's like the M-1992 30mm they should (in Theory) be able to design a system along those lines.

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    Or perhaps they are not capable. Something that should looks relatively easy for a countries like Russia, USA, Japan, South Korea or EU countries, might not be an easy task for a country with such poor economy and scientific base as North Korea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Damian90 View Post
    Or perhaps they are not capable. Something that should looks relatively easy for a countries like Russia, USA, Japan, South Korea or EU countries, might not be an easy task for a country with such poor economy and scientific base as North Korea.
    It is also a possibility that given the North Korean deployment of 15,000-20,000 MANPADS the General Staff Department considers the development of new close-in Air Defense systems a relatively low priority. They do have a number of defense projects active right now like the Reverse-engineering and modification of the MQM-107D into an suicide drone, the Ongoing improvements in the Pok'pung-Ho, The deployment of thier new 8x8 APC and Tracked APC, deployment of thier new Air-to-Surface version of the KN-01, and deployment of KN-06 SAM. Of course we have no way of knowing what VMAR Hyon Yong-Chol is thinking or what the engineers at the Ryu-Kyong Su Tank Factory or Panghyon Aircraft Factory are cooking up.

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    It is possible. Also we should remember that in reality effectiveness of air forces in engaging ground forces is greatly overestimated.

    I had some time ago a good read from US sources about effectiveness of USAF in defeating Iraqi armor in 1991 and 2003... well to put it short, USAF officials like to use big words while reality showed how poor they were in defeating Iraqi AFV's compared to US and coalition ground forces. Same goes for preaty much any other conflict, like Balkans where NATO air forces destroyed in one of the operations only 14 tanks from approx 200-300 in the AO.

    The truth is that still the best anti tank weapon is tank itself. So if we assume that there are smart people outhere, and it is reasonable to think so, they probably analized all these conflicts and they know that ground troops main threat is not air power.

    However aircrafts are very effective in destroying infrastructure, the whole logistical chain, economy, HQ's etc. So more reasonable is to invest in to area air defense for such objects.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Damian90 View Post
    Definetly in terms of Fire Control System the tanks seems to be better than T-62 and it's other North Korean derivatives like Chonma-Ho variants.
    In terms of firepower it is probably also better and armed with 125mm gun not 115mm. Of course depending on ammunition avaiable to KPA, will depend overall effectivenes of the vehicle firepower. I doubt that they have even medicore ammo, rather different clones of 1960's and 1970's, in best case 1980's level of ammunition.

    A lot of the higher black market ammo (SPGs, heavy rockets, detonators, fuzes, torpedoes, etc...) found in various militants groups/under embargo military, directly or inderectly comes from North Korea, and they don't perform badly.
    They're the ones that are responsible for a lot of missile proliferation (of all classes) too.
    That does mean a somewhat capable military-industrial complex, able to produce effective pyrotechnics agents. It's probably one of the only things actually working in the country.

    Plus we don't actually know the level of science/tech sharing they've got with China.

    Granted they're certainly not on par with South Korea for a lot of things and they certainly lack a lot of capacities but guesses are that what they're producing is roughly on the same level than 80-90's China (which is not high end sure but dangerous enough depending how it's used).

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    A lot of the higher black market ammo (SPGs, heavy rockets, detonators, fuzes, torpedoes, etc...) found in various militants groups/under embargo military, directly or inderectly comes from North Korea, and they don't perform badly.
    They're the ones that are responsible for a lot of missile proliferation (of all classes) too.
    That does mean a somewhat capable military-industrial complex, able to produce effective pyrotechnics agents. It's probably one of the only things actually working in the country.
    You know, designing a properly working, high quality kinetic energy penetrator with high enough penetration capabilities is not that simple as designing even the more capable shaped charge based warhead.

    Plus we don't actually know the level of science/tech sharing they've got with China.
    IMHO Chinese know that North Koreans are unpredictibale, I think they also do not wan't to risk with them.

    Granted they're certainly not on par with South Korea for a lot of things and they certainly lack a lot of capacities but guesses are that what they're producing is roughly on the same level than 80-90's China.
    Maybe, but Chinese 80's or 90's tech was also not something... impressive.

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    Hi Kpablogger, hi all,
    I'm interested in this tank, but I can't download the photos you've uploaded here. Are they the same of your blog?
    Regards
    Massimo

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