But here's the thing: The North Korean military is not in great shape. Despite its bluster, it's actually quite decrepit, plagued by "antiquated" and "outdated" equipment, according to a 22-page report released by the Pentagon in March. For the latest illustration, you need look back no further than today.
South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reports that the North has had to ground half its fighter jet drills after three of its MiG-19s crashed due to "aged fuselages," according to an unidentified source. The MiG-19, for the uninitiated, is a Soviet fighter jet from the 1950s — and such museum-ready MiGs make up about three quarters of its fighters. Now, the North Korean military is increasingly counting on commandos, hackers, and nukes to make up for its aging conventional forces — but still, it's flying out your grandfather's air force.
And these crashes aren't even unusual:
It is 'far from unusual for North Korea's fighters as well as military choppers to crash,' another source said, noting frequent accidents 'are partly behind its leader Kim Jong-un's inspection tours to the air force units this year.'
'The series of visits to the air force units or events seems to be aimed at not only countering the annual joint Max Thunder air drills between South Korea and the United States in April, but to encourage airmen demoralized by crash accidents,' the source added. [Yonhap]