Saturday, October 14, 2017

North Korean Artillery

How to make a Warthog salivate.

North Korea likest to parade their big, self-propelled artillery pieces.  There is a reason for that.

Soviet ere doctrine favored towed artillery pieces.  Their reasoning was simple.  Trucks break down under the rigors of combat.  Push the broken truck off the two-track and hook up another.  Towed pieces also have some advantages in putting together mission specific forces.  The same truck that tows a 105mm howitzer can tow a 155mm cannon.  The truck also offers the capability of hauling ammo or supporting personnel.

"Modern" forces favored selp-propelled artillery.  Reliability is less of an issue and the unit is more maneuverable and able to change location before counter-battery fire destroys it.

North Korea wants to present their Game Face to the world.  They want to look modern.

In spite of what North Korea shows on parade, it is likely that majority of their inventory are towed artillery pieces.

MAZ-200 truck
Many of them will be towed by trucks like this, the MAZ-200.  The MAZ-200 is a Soviet era, military truck that first went into production in 1945 and remained in production until 1965.  It is a very simple, rugged truck.

Louvers to vent engine heat and exposed exhaust muffler are circled.
However, trucks like the MAZ-200 were not designed to minimize their Infrared signature.  That is a large vulnerability especially as ambient temperatures start dropping.  They will glow like traffic flares for any missiles launched by opposing forces.

IR seeking is an advanced technology available at "commodity" prices.  It can be cobbled together by little more than stripping the IR filter out of a cheap point-and-shoot camera, placing a visible light filter over the lens and letting the camera's internal "facial recognition software" look for roundish blobs of light.

Many of their high-end weapons like their rocket launchers has an Achilles heel
They are towed.
This is not to minimize the North Korean military.  They are a tough and dedicated foe.  My point is that both sides are likely to have a vast number of assets removed from the battle field in a very shortly after the onset of hostilities.

A preemptive strike by North Korea would quickly stall out even if they could exploit the flat landscape and dash across the Seoul-Kyonggi basin.  Even that is doubtful given the chaos and structural trash a prolonged shelling of the metropolis would create.

The topography outside of the Seoul-Kyonggi basin mitigates against sweeping tank battles and battles of maneuver.  Assets are funneled through narrow travel corridors, corridors we have mapped to the centimeter.


  1. We might be on the losing end if we shoot 100K missiles at 50 dollar trucks and they shoot 100K missiles at 50 million dollar planes.
    Course the Norks best option will be to orbit an EMP weapon a couple - three hundred miles up. 300 million dead Americans in a year and not a lot we can do about it except kill all of them.
    Trump is in a no win situation unless the Chinese come to the table.

  2. The two North Korean satellites that are currently orbiting were launched when North Korea had very low yield atomic devices. They could wreak havoc on the eastern seacoast as described here:

    Looking at the west coast, the prime targets are too spread out to present a great opportunity. The distance between San Francisco and San Diego is about 450 miles while the distance between New York City and Washington D.C. is a mere 210 miles. Power dissipates at a rate of 1/R^2. Doubling the distance reduces the power flux by a factor of four.

    The other thing about the east coast is that "good" targets exist inland of the coastal cities. With apologies to the residents of the Central Valley of California and Las Vegas, they are not targets with the military value of Pittsburgh or Cleveland.

    If North Korea opted for the EMP option, I think they would detonate one device over central Pennsylvania and hold the other back as a second strike threat.

    This opinion is worth about what you paid for it.

    1. My understanding of EMP devices is not complete, but it would be a error to think of it as a point source and use the inverse square formula without some caveats. When the nuclear device emits it's gamma rays, they travel outward in a spherical shell through space, until they hit the atoms of the upper atmosphere, where they interact. The gamma rays knock off electrons (Compton Scattering) from a huge area of air much closer to us than the nuclear device. This very sudden simultaneous electron movement constitutes a flow of moving electrons and generates a very sudden magnetic pulse, this is the EMP. Even though the device may be 300 miles up the pulse will originate closer to the ground and will be from horizon to horizon. The rise time of the gamma pulse allows for a very fast EMP pulse , and power is energy over time. By making the time very short the power can be raised for the same energy.


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