With all this in mind, the vehicle that North Korea put on parade is most likely to reflect what the country envisions as a “future tank” and not what they are fielding as an operationally useful design today.
All this being said, whatever its capabilities and performance, it is important to note that this new tank does highlight how North Korea’s heavy machinery industries have been able to continue their work, with or without foreign assistance, in the face of international sanctions, especially from the United States. Even if a final version of this tank turns out to be heavily based on technical information acquired abroad and is full of foreign-made systems, sourced legally or illicitly, that would underscore the ability of the regime in Pyongyang to obtain the resources necessary to continue expanding and advancing the technological capabilities of its war machine.
North Korea is also known to be a relatively prolific arms exporter itself, in spite of the international community’s attempts to curtail this trade. This means that this new tank, or portions of its design, may one day find its way into the arsenal of other countries that cannot afford or otherwise acquire more modern designs on the open market.
With North Korea itself calling these prototypes, it remains to be seen when, and if, they might actually enter any kind of widespread operational service and how capable those units would actually be when they roll off the production line. Still, they do show North Korea’s armor aspirations and the Hermit Kingdom has proven to be successful in rapidly developing new military capabilities under Kim Jong Un. So, what may be a collection of ideas and placeholders for future technologies today, could be an operational land combat vehicle in a few years’ time, in one form or another.
The War Zone will definitely keep a close eye out for any new information that may come out now about Pyonyang’s new experimental main battle tanks.
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