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Air Bases

Air transportation in North Korea is practically nonexistent. The North Korean air force maintains approximately seventy air fields, including jet and non-jet bases and emergency runways, and has stationed its aircraft in some twenty to thirty air bases. Primary tactical aircraft are stationed at front-line bases and at airbases in the Pyongyang area. North Korea has deployed about half of its fighters in the front area which makes a possible short-warning attack against all areas of South Korea.

North Korea has built dozens of reserve airstrips for emergency landing and takeoff for fighters along highways and ordinary roads across the country. These reserve airstrips built along highways and on stretches of national roads between Sinuiju and Uiju, between P"yongyang and Sangwon, between P"yongyang and Wonsan, P"yongyang and Kaesong, P"yongyang and Sunan, between P"yongyang, P"yongsong, and Hamhung, between Wonsan-Kosong, between Hamhung and Ch"ongjin, and between Huich"on and Solsan.

The three air combat commands are under the direct control of the Air Command at Chunghwa, and the Eighth Air Division is probably headquartered at Rang [Orang] in the northeast. Pyongyang can place almost all its military aircraft in hardened--mostly underground--shelters.

In 1990-91, North Korea activated four forward air bases near the DMZ, which increased its initial southward reach and decreased warning and reaction times for Seoul.

More than 420 fighters, bombers, transport planes, and helicopters were redeployed in October 1995, with more than 100 aircraft were moved forward to three air bases near the DMZ. More than 20 Il-28 bombers were moved to Taetan which shortened their arrival time to Seoul from 30 minutes to 10 minutes. Over 80 MiG-17s redeployed to Nuchonri and Kuupri are able to attack Seoul in 6 minutes. According to South Korean estimates, these redeployments suggested that North Korea intends to make a first strike with outdated MiG-17s and the second strike with primary fighters such as MiG-21s and Su-25s.




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