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Analysis: New North Korea MBT Main Battle Tank appears at February 2023 military parade

For the second time, North Korea presents its latest generation of Main Battle Tank (MBT) during a military parade that was held on February 9, 2023. The tank was unveiled for the first time to the public in October 2020 at the military parade marking the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the WPK (Worker's Party of Korea).
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The new North Korean design MBT Main Battle Tank. (Picture source Internet Social Network)

Currently, the new North Korean Main has no official name. The design of the turret seems very similar to the American M1A2 Abrams but features specific combat equipment while the hull and the suspension seem to be based on Soviet design tanks. The tank has a crew of three including a driver seated at the front center of the hull while the commander and gunner are in the turret.

It seems that the turret is made of welded construction and is also fitted with composite spaced armor. The hull is similar to the Russian T-14 Armata and appears to be fitted with ERA (Explosive Reactive Armor) on the front and sides. The rear parts of the turret and the hull are fitted with slat armor to increase protection against the firing of RPGs (Rocket-Propelled Grenades).

On each side at the front and sides of the turret, the tank is equipped with three tube launchers that could be part of an APS (Active Protection System) such as the Russian Afganit able to detect incoming AP (Armor-Piercing) projectiles with its radar and destroys them with special fragmentation projectiles. There are also two devices mounted on the turret sides which could be the laser alarm receiver radars which be part of the APS.

According to our first analysis, the main armament is very similar to a Soviet-made 125mm and could be a derivative of the Soviet 2A46 smoothbore gun able to fire Armor-Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot (APFSDS), High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) and High-Explosive Fragmentation (HEF) projectiles. As the Russian tank, it can be coupled to an automatic loading system.

New North Korea MBT Main Battle Tank appears at February 2023 military parade 925 002
Side view of the new North Korean Main Battle Tank. (Picture source Twitter)

The second armament of the tank includes one 7.62mm coaxial machine gun mounted to the left of the main armament. A remotely operated weapon station is mounted at the front of the hatch located on the left side of the turret roof which is armed with a 30mm automatic grenade launcher. The right side of the turret is equipped with two launchers able to fire anti-tank guided missiles what observers believe to be Bulsae-3 missiles, a copy of the Russian-made Kornet anti-tank missile.

The suspension on each side consists of seven road wheels with the drive sprocket at the rear and the idler at the front. The upper part of the suspension is covered by armor plates while the lower part is protected by polymer skirts.

On the turret, we can see what looks like a commander’s panoramic sight mounted on the right side of the turret roof and a gunner sight just below. The upper part of the canon is fitted with a laser range finder. There is also another fixed episcope on the right of the commander’s cupola, an anemometer, a radio antenna on the right, and, on the left side, what may look like a cross-wind sensor.

As for the Russian T-14 Armata MBT, the new North Korean seems like a very modern and technologically advanced combat vehicle but there is no evidence that the tank is fully functional and ready for deployment in combat.

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