North Korean Air Force

Operator Profile

Key Facts

Current Title:
English Title:
North Korean People's Army Air Force
First Established:
20 Aug 1947
ICAO Code:
North Korea


Narrative Summary

Air Force History

Key Dates

Air Force Timeline

Current Status

The NKPAF is suffering from an increasingly rapid decline in operational effectivenss. A shortage of AVGAS has grounded many of the piston-engined aircraft operated by the NKPAF. A severe limit on flying hours for most pilots has resulted in a significant erosion of flying skills. This was demonstrated during a major mobilisation exercise conducted in late 2010 which was principally characterised by poor flying and poor organisation.

Future Plans

The NKPAF is desperate to acquire some new up-to-date combat aircraft, to begin replacing its ageing fleet of Chinese copies. In recent years it has been rebuffed by both Russia and China.


National Insignia

Current — Historical

Aircraft Serial Numbers

North Korean military aircraft carry two or three digit numbers. The 2-digit numbers are Soviet-style tactical codes allocated by the operating unit. The 3-digit numbers appear to be non-duplicated serial numbers based on the individual aircraft’s construction number – in the same manner as for several former Warsaw Pact air forces.

Unit/Base Codes

Coding system not used.


Aircraft Designations

None – Manufacturers designations used.

Current Aircraft Inventory

Table of Current Service Aircraft

All-Time Aircraft Used List

All-Time Table of Aircraft Used

Aircraft MAYBE Used

Aircraft Reported in Service


Main Headquarters

Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces, Pyongyang.

Organisational Structure

The NKPAF is organised into Air Divisions, each with several Air Regiments.

Current Order of Battle

Table of Current Order of Battle

Historical Orders of Battle

Historical Order of Battle for June 1950
Historical Order of Battle for 1958
Historical Order of Battle for 1975
Historical Order of Battle for 1992

All-Time Flying Units List

Units List

Air Bases

Current Air Bases

The NKPAF has available a large number of large and small air bases around the country. Some of these permanently host NKPAF units.

All-Time Air Bases Used List

In addition to the main bases, here are also a number of smaller airfields around the country which are sometimes used by the Air Force.
Military Air Bases Listing – to be added.

More Information


North Korea Military Aviation Bibliography – to be added.

World Air Forces Directory 2004/05. Ian Caroll. Mach III Publishing, 2004.

Airlines of Asia since 1920. R E G Davies. Putnam Aeronautical Books, London, 1997.

MiG-29 Fulcrum Multi-role Fighter. Yefim Gordon. Airlife, 1999.

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 The Soviet Union’s Long-lived Korean War Fighter. Yefim Gordon. Aerofax, 2001.

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 The Soviet Union’s Jet Fighter of the Fifties. Yefim Gordon. Aerofax, 2002.

Ilyushin Il-28 Beagle Light Attack Bomber. Yefim Gordon & Dmitriy Komissarov. Airlife, 2002.

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19 The Soviet Union’s First Production Supersonic Fighter. Yefim Gordon. Aerofax, 2003.

Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot. Yefim Gordon & Alan Dawes. Airlife Publishing, Marlborough, 2004.

Antonov An-12 Cub. Yefim Gordon & Dmitriy Komissarov. Crowood Aviation Press, 2004.

Ilyushin Il-2 and Il-10 Shturmovik. Yefim Gordon & Dmitriy Komissarov. Crowood Aviation Press, 2004.

Lisunov Li-2 The Soviet DC-3. Yefim Gordon, Dmitriy Komissarov & Sergey Komissarov. Midland Publishing, Hinckley, England, 2006.

Mikoyan MiG-21. Yefim Gordon, Keith Dexter and Dmitriy Komissarov. Midland Publishing, Hinckley, 2008.

U.S. Army Aircraft Since 1947. Stephen Harding. Schiffer Publishing Ltd, Atglen USA, 1997.

Soviet Transports. Peter Hillman, et al. Dutch Aviation Society & The Aviation Hobby Shop TAHS, West Drayton, 2004.

Yakovlev Yak-9U. P. Robert Panek, Mushroom Model Publications, Poland, 2006.

Aerospace Encyclopedia of World Air Forces. David Willis (Editor). Aerospace Publishing Ltd, London, 1999.


Air Enthusiast No. 12. T-33 and F-94… …more stars in the Lockheed galaxy by Richard P. Hallion

Air Enthusiast No. 6. F-82: KILLERS OVER KOREA by Warren Thompson

Air Enthusiast No. 17. The MiG Killers of Korea by Warren Thompson

Wings of Fame, Vol 1. Fighter Combat over Korea part 1: First Kills by Warren Thompson

Wings of Fame, Vol 2. Fighter Combat over Korea Part 2: Jet Aces by Warren Thompson

Wings of Fame, Vol 3. Fighter Combat over Korea Part 3: A Year of MiGs by Warren Thompson

Wings of Fame, Vol 4. Fighter Combat over Korea Part 4: The Final Year by Warren Thompson


Korean People’s Army Air Force

wikipedia: Korean People’s Air Force

Scramble: North Korean Air Forces

DPRL – Air Force, 2007-09-12

The North Korean Air Force by Google Earth, 2007-09-12

Ki-54, Ki-55, Ki-86 – Ex-Japanese Aircraft in North Korean Air Force, 2008-04-28

Post-war use of IJN/IJAAF aircraft in Korea, 2008-04-28

Portfolio: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Air Force, 2004-09-22

US evaluation of DPRKAF aircraft, 2011-11-27

North Korean Air Force

North Korean Air Force Left To Rot

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