Smoking: rare glimpse of North Korean MiGs

As rare sightings go, a three-ship formation of North Korean MiG-29s has to be pretty high on anyone’s list.

Captured in this ZUMA/Rex Features image published on 19 March, the trio was among a range of Pyongyang’s firepower on rare show during a military exercise.

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Sadly for us here on The DEW Line, the other shots are all of ground vehicles and artillery action, which, along with the recent nuclear warhead test or two, underline Kim Jong-un’s desire to maintain the pariah state image thing.

UPDATE: Thanks to David Cenciotti of The Aviationist fame for spotting that the image above is actually identical to one which appeared via the KCNA agency just over a year ago. Three possibilities: blatant propaganda by Pyongyang; an inadvertent slip by our image supplier; or they couldn’t actually get any MiGs airborne this year.

According to Flightglobal’s World Air Forces directory for 2013, North Korea’s air force is believed to have an active fleet of 35 MiG-29s. The fighters are the most modern assets in its roughly 570-unit combat aircraft fleet, which is comprised entirely of Russian- and Chinese-built types. You can download a free copy of the directory by clicking here and filling in a short form.


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