Military Wiki
Type Main Battle Tank
Place of origin  North Korea
Service history
In service 1992 - present
Used by North Korea
Production history
Designer Second Machine Industry Bureau[1]
Manufacturer Ryu Kyong-su Tank Factory
Weight 44 (±3) tonnes
Crew 4

Armor Cast Turret and Spaced Armor or Cast Turret and ERA
125 mm 2A46 smoothbore gun (43 [±3] rounds) with possible ATGM capability (4 missiles)
14.5 mm KPVT heavy anti-aircraft machine gun (300 rounds), 7.62 mm PKT coaxial machine gun (1,500 rounds), possible equipment of short-range SAM or hull-mounted MANPADS (2 missiles)
Engine Likely V-46-6, but may be modified with indigenous, Russian or Ukrainian technology
1,100 (±150) hp
Power/weight 22.72 hp/ton (±7.22)
Suspension torsion-bar
370 km
Speed 50 km/h on road
30 km/h cross country
3 m/s underwater (safe speed: although it is possible for the P'okp'ung-ho to exceed this speed, it is considered dangerous to do so)

The P'okp'ung-ho or spelled Pokpung-ho (Chosŏn'gŭl: 폭풍호; Hanja: 暴風虎), which means "Storm Tiger" in Korean, is a North Korean tank developed in the 1990s. The tank may incorporate technology found in the T-62, T-72, T-80, T-90, Type 88 and/or Ch'onma-ho MBTs. Outside parties codename the tank M-2002 because the tank went through performance trials on February 16, 2002 (therefore being officially confirmed by outside sources), although the tank has been in existence even since 1992.

The P'okp'ung-ho is only known to be used in North Korea.


After the collapse of the Soviet Union, a significant number of T-72s were decommissioned from Soviet service and scrapped for metal. North Korea acquired some of these scrapped T-72s and obtained core technology for use on the P'okp'ung-ho through reverse engineering. North Korea is also believed to have obtained technology used in the Russian T-80 and T-90 tanks during this period, and may have utilized both this information and Chinese technology (reported to be from the Type 88 tank) to build the P'okp'ung-ho, with goals of creating a tank to match the T-90. North Korea's interest in the T-90 was demonstrated in August 2001 when Kim Jong-il visited the Omsk Transmash defense plant which builds the T-90 during his trip to Russia. It has also been reported that North Korea has acquired a single T-90S during the same period. North Korea may have since then used the T-90S as a reference to retrofitting the T-72s with parts from the T-90.

What initiated the need to develop a new tank was likely the poor combat performance the export variants of T-72 displayed during the Gulf War. Shocked at the destruction of Iraqi T-72s by western tanks such as the M1 Abrams, compounded with the fact that South Korea operates the K1 MBT, which has similar performance to the American M1 Abrams MBT, North Korea decided to significantly modernize their tank fleet to bridge the performance gap between their Ch'onma-ho MBTs and the South Korean K1 MBTs. However, economic struggles and a lack of several core technologies seem to have prevented North Korea from achieving high production numbers for the P'okp'ung-ho.

Production history

The first P'okp'ung-ho is believed to have been produced in 1992 in the Ryu Kyong-su Tank Factory, located in Sinhung, South Hamgyong Province.[2] The capabilities of later variants may have been augmented, although only to a minimal degree. Because of North Korea's limited industrial capability, compounded by the fact that North Korea has also spent most of the resources allotted for the development of the P'okp'ung-ho on their nuclear program, North Korea is believed to possess fewer than 250 of these tanks. The tank was witnessed by parties outside of North Korea in 2002 and thus codenamed the M-2002.

Design characteristics (Projected)

As most publicly available information regarding the P'okp'ung-ho is derived from defecting North Koreans and speculation, and as a result it is fairly unreliable. All information presented in this article is according to such sources. No schematics or photographs of the P'okp'ung-ho exist in public circulation.[3][4]

Images of the P'okp'ung-ho finally surfaced in 2010, which showed the tank appeared to be based on the Ch'onma main battle tank (based on 1-62) more so than the T-72 tanks as previously believed.

North Korean propaganda claims that the P'okp'ung-ho is comparable or superior to the Russian T-90, which was developed in the 1990s. Although the design and size of the P'okp'ung-ho closely resembles the T-80 or T-90, its capabilities are said to be more or less comparable to export variants of the T-72 or other 2.5th generation tanks. Although the P'okp'ung-ho tanks may be slightly superior or somewhat comparable to the M48A5K or the basic model K1 tank, it is unlikely to have any advantage over the K1 PIP, K1A1 or K2 Black Panther.


The P'okp'ung-ho is built on a T-72 hull, much like this one.

The P'okp'ung-ho is said to have a main gun similar to this T-80.

The P'okp'ung-ho's primary armament is 125 mm smoothbore gun, which fires Armor Piercing shells produced in North Korea. The gun has been altered to be flat and round to resemble that of the T-80, although the purpose of this alteration is unknown. The tank also has a heavy anti-aircraft machine gun, a coaxial machine gun and four missiles of unknown type, which may be either hull-mounted MANPADS or ATGMs. If the missiles are ATGMs, it is likely a copy of the 3M6 Shmel or 9M14 Malyutka (Susong-Po). If the missiles are MANPADs, then it is likely a copy of the 9K38 Igla or 9K32 Strela-2 (Hwasung-Chong).


Reports claim that the P'okp'ung-ho's appearance resembles this T-90.

The P'okp'ung-ho should look similar to this Belarusian T-72 equipped with a main gun similar to the T-80.

The P'okp'ung-ho is built on a T-72 hull, with six sets of roadwheels within the caterpillar. The tank has increased armor on the front (composite or spaced armor), turret (spaced armor and a wedge-shaped gun mantlet) and on the top. The P'okp'ung-ho has as much armor as the T-80U or a late-model T-72, able to withstand a TOW, an anti-tank gun, HEAT or DPICM strike. However, the tank's frontal armor is expected to be penetrated by the new South Korean 105 mm APFSDS or 120 mm APFSDS. The tank weighs roughly 45 tons and utilizes explosive-reactive armor, which it may be covered with. However, given North Korea's limited stockpile it is likely to be selectively placed on the upper and side areas of the tank. The tank is also capable of submerging 5 meters underwater (the tip of the gun must remain above water) when the apparatus is equipped.


Although the horsepower of the P'okp'ung-ho's engine has been speculated to be as high as 1500, the engine is likely to have around 1000-1100 horsepower. It has been reported that North Korea rejected developing the 1,250 hp (930 kW) engine of the T-80, judging that it would not be suitable for a tank engagement within the narrow, mountainous terrain of Korea, and that it would prove to be of little difference on defensive missions. During aggressive missions, the P'okp'ung-ho can quickly engage the enemy due to its already excellent speed and acceleration, which is the basis of North Korean tank tactics.

Internal systems

Upgrades implemented on the Ch'onma-Ho include an improved FCS, IR sensor and Laser-Range Finder.

When developing the P'okp'ung-ho, North Korea has opted to remove much of the redundant systems of the T-72 to increase its speed and maneuverability within Korean terrain, enhancing its ability to cross mountainous terrain, mudflats, and to submerge when crossing rivers. The systems removed include the autoloader, which North Korea traditionally disfavors due to their belief that manual and automatic loading have little time difference. North Korea also realized that more rounds could be stored within the tank if the autoloader was removed, as well as improving its mobility due to the decreased weight. The Fire Control System of the P'okp'ung-ho has been improved from the baseline T-72 FCS (in the areas of shell trajectory calculation, laser guidance and nighttime performance), and some reports claim that it may be based on the Chieftain FCS, which Iran may have illegally exchanged for North Korean Technology. If the P'okp'ung-ho's FCS is based on the T-72's, it may implement the PNK-3 or PNK-4 day and night sighting system with the 1K13-49 periscopic combined passive/active sight guidance system. While it is unlikely that the P'okp'ung-ho is equipped with an Active Protection System, some reports claim that the P'okp'ung-ho may possibly be equipped with the Arena APS, although of dubious quality. The P'okp'ung-ho also has an infrared sensor (TPN-3-49 or TPN-4), a laser rangefinder and a search light, all of which allow the P'okp'ung-ho to operate during the night. Although the quality of the equipment are likely inferior to the South Korean counterparts, the P'okp'ung-ho is believed to be a considerable threat at medium/short range engagements, although lacking when firing from long ranges.


Tanks compared below are the P'okp'ung-ho of the North Korean Army, the T-80U, K1, K1A1, and K2 of the South Korean armed forces, the M1A2 of the United States Forces Korea, and the T-90 of the Russian Army. The K1, K1A1, K2, T-80U and M1A2 are included because the P'okp'ung-ho is most likely to engage these tanks in battle, whereas the T-90 is added for comparison because of North Korea's original propaganda stating that the P'okp'ung-ho has similar specs to the T-90. [5][6]

Tank P'okp'ung-ho (Projected) K1 K1A1 K2 T-80U T-90 M1A2
Country of Origin  North Korea  South Korea  South Korea  South Korea  Soviet Union  Russia United States
Primary Armament 125 mm Smoothbore (2A46) 105 mm Rifled (KM68A1) 120mm / L44 Smoothbore (KM256) 120mm / L55 Smoothbore 125 mm Smoothbore (2A46M-1) 125 mm Smoothbore (2A46M-1) 120 mm Smoothbore / L44 (M256)
Secondary Armament 14.5 mm KPVT Heavy Machine Gun, 7.62 mm PKT Coaxial Machine Gun, possibly hull-mounted MANPADS 12.7 mm K6 Heavy Machine Gun, 7.62 mm M60 Pintle-Mounted Machine Gun, 7.62 mm M60 Coaxial Machine Gun 12.7 K6 mm Heavy Machine Gun, 7.62 mm M60 Pintle-Mounted Machine Gun, 7.62 mm M60 Coaxial Machine Gun 12.7 K6 mm Heavy Machine Gun, 7.62 mm M60 Coaxial Machine Gun 12.7 mm NSVT Heavy Machine Gun, 7.62 mm PKT Coaxial Machine Gun 12.7 NSVT mm Heavy Machine Gun, 7.62 mm PKT Coaxial Machine Gun, 5.45 mm AKS-74 Assault Rifle (inside storage rack) 12.7 M2HB mm Heavy Machine Gun, 7.62 mm M240 Pintle-Mounted Machine Gun, 7.62 mm M240 Coaxial Machine Gun
Ammunition AP, HEAT, HE-FRAG APAM, HESH(HEP), APFSDS-T, HEAT-MP, HEAT-FS (New South Korean 105 mm APFSDS Shells for PIP) APFSDS-T, HEAT-MP, HE-FS (New South Korean 120 mm APFSDS Shells for PIP) APFSDS-T, HEAT-MP, KSTAM-120 and other Smoothbore 120 mm NATO rounds APFSDS-T, HEAT-FS, HE-FRAG-FS, 9M119 Svir APFSDS-T, HEAT-FS, HE-FRAG-FS, 9M119 Svir, 9M119M Refleks M1028 120mm Canister, WP, APFSDS-T, HEAT-MP
Shells Stored 43 47 32 40 39 43 40
Bullets Stored 300 (14.5mm), 1,500 (7.62mm) 3,400 (12.7mm), 7,200 (7.62mm) 3,400 (12.7mm), 7,200 (7.62mm) 3,500 (12.7mm), 12,000 (7.62mm) 500 (12.7mm), 1,250 (7.62mm) 300 (12.7mm), 2,000 (7.62mm), 300 (5.45mm) 600 (12.7mm), 6,250 (7.62mm)
ATGM Stored 2 0 0 0 6 6 0
Armor Cast Turret and Spaced (possibly Composite) Composite Composite Composite Composite Composite Chobham, RHA, steel encased depleted uranium mesh plating
Protection Systems Explosive Reactive Armour Smoke Grenade (Possible Soft-Kill for PIP) Smoke Grenade (Possible Soft-Kill for PIP) Explosive Reactive Armour, Soft- Kill: RWR, Chaff/Flares, Radar Jammer, Smoke Grenade (Non-Explosive Reactive Armour, Hard-Kill for PIP) Explosive Reactive Armour (Soft-Kill: Shtora Radar Jammer for T-80UK) Explosive Reactive Armour, Soft-Kill: Shtora Radar Jammer, Hard Kill: Arena Active Protection System Tank Urban Survival Kit
Loading Manual Manual Manual Automatic Automatic Automatic Manual
Speed (on road) 50 km/h 65 km/h 65 km/h 70 km/h 70 km/h 65 km/h 68 km/h
Speed (off road) 30 km/h 40 km/h 40 km/h 52 km/h 40 km/h 45 km/h 48 km/h
Operational range 370 km 500 km 500 km 450 km 500 km 500 km 465 km
Engine power 1100±150 hp 1,200 hp (890 kW) 1,200 hp (890 kW) 1,500 hp (1,100 kW) 1,250 hp (930 kW) 1,100 hp (820 kW) 1,500 hp (1,100 kW)
Suspension Torsion Bar Torsion Bar & Hydropneumatic (Hybrid Suspension) Torsion Bar & Hydropneumatic (Hybrid Suspension) Semi-Active In-Arm Suspension Unit (Active In-arm Suspension Unit for PIP) Torsion Bar Torsion Bar Torsion Bar
Fording Depth 5m (with kit) 2.2 m (with kit) 2.2 m (with kit) 2.33 m, 4.1 m (with snorkel), 5+m (with extra submerging equipment) 1.2 m, 1.8 m (with kit), 5.5 m (with snorkel), 12.0 m (with BROD-M system) 1.2 m, 5 m (with snorkel) 1.98 m
C4I No No No Yes No No Yes
NBC Protection Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Night Operation Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

See also


  1. Bermudez Jr., p 50.
  2. North Korea rolls out new tank. Retrieved on November 26, 2007.
  3. Yoo, Yong Won, Park, Chan-Jun, Jonchamania & Hweori 33 (2007-10-28). "유용원의 군사세계". Chosun. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  4. Hong, Gyung Hwan (2007-03-03). "The North Korean P'okp'ung-ho tank". Gonews. Retrieved 2007-12-12. 
  5. Kerobel (2007-11-16). "세계의 주력전차와차기전차". ROKMC. Retrieved 2008-01-11. 
  6. Fabio Prado (2007-06-15). "The Armor Site". The Armor Site. Retrieved 2008-01-11. 


  • Bermudez Jr., Joseph S. (2001-03-14). The Armed Forces of North Korea. I.B. Tauris. ISBN 1-86064-486-4. 

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