North Korea: New camouflage for biplane fleet

A North Korean Antonov An-2 biplane Image copyright KCNA
Image caption North Korea's biplanes may seem old-fashioned, but they give Pyongyang a tactical advantage

North Korea has changed the camouflage on its fleet of biplanes for tactical purposes, according to military experts.

Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un was seen at the controls of one of the Korean People's Air Force Antonov An-2 aircraft while on an inspection visit to an aircraft maintenance plant last week, and analysts in South Korea say that Pyongyang has updated the colour scheme of the vintage planes, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper reports. Previously painted khaki, the aircraft now have a blue underside and green upper surfaces, meaning they would be difficult to spot on low-level missions. "Seen from above, they'll be difficult to identify, and seen from below they could be seen as part of the sky," says a South Korean officer. "It seems the North was encouraged by the relatively successful infiltration of sky-blue drones last year." Several drones, all painted pale blue, were found in South Korea in 2014, and a military enquiry concluded they came from the North.

Despite their great age - the An-2 dates back to 1947 - the aircraft is seen as an ideal low-tech stealth aircraft for short-range infiltration raids. They can fly at low altitudes below radar systems, delivering a dozen troops to a target area. Chosun Ilbo says that Pyongyang has recently increased parachute drills involving the An-2 aircraft. While North Korea's sanctions-hit air force is comprised of planes that would long be considered obsolete in other countries, they still operate a number of high-tech Russian MiG-29 fighter jets, although it is not known precisely how many are airworthy.

Image copyright KCNA
Image caption Kim Jong-un, seen behind the controls of one of his country's An-2 aircraft, is reportedly a keen aviator

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