North Korea's Su-7s

The DPRK is often noted as the last operator of the Su-7 in the world. Its Su-7 fleet is stated by SIPRI to have consisted of 28 Su-7Bs orginally, ordered in 1969 and delivered in 1971. Other sources explain it to be the Su-7BMK, which is far more logical as the Su-7B was produced from 1960 to 1962 and the Su-7BMK from 1967 to 1971 (the Su-7s were new, according to SIPRI).

Despite the relatively high number of aircraft the Su-7 has remained fairly elusive both in propaganda and satellite footage (the former provides us no images whatsoever as far as I know). The only visual proof it is indeed operated by the North until recently consisted of a single aircraft at Pukchang airfield. A large amount (12) near Koksan airfield finally caught my attention, though wether they are still operational is debatable.

Imagery of the single Su-7 at Pukchang airfield (near the helicopter pads):

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Date: 18-12-2006

Note that it wasn’t visible at Pukchang in 2004.

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Date: 28-5-2009

Presumably the same aircraft, moved a little to the right.

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Date: 22-9-2011

Another picture of either another Su-7 stored in the shelters on the West end of Pukchang (which would mean more Su-7 might be kept there too), or the same aircraft moved to the other side of the airfield. No Su-7s were visible on 18-3-2011.

Imagery of 12 Su-7s at Koksan airfield (next to the dirt landing strip in the South):

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Date: 26-10-2009

The first footage of Su-7s near Koksan (date of last picture: 5-10-2007). Nothing larger than a dirt road leads to this landing strip, meaning they must have flown in by themselves.

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Date: 24-3-2011

The only other picture of the aircraft on Google Earth. It appears none of the jets have moved at all in nearly two years, perhaps indicating they are in the process of being retired.

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Date: 8-2-2011

This picture from TerraServer has probably been dated wrong or the planes have been returned extremely carefully to their former positions. It shows a last Su-7, which is gone too in the next picture. The oddity here is that the aircraft were brought here presumably to be retired, yet almost two years later they are flown away again, proving they are at least flight capable.

A possible explanation for all this could be that the Su-7 fleet is still formally not retired and kept operational, but due to a shortage of jet fuel and spare parts effectively grounded.

Sources:

http://www.terraserver.com/

http://portal.sipri.org/publications/pages/transfer/trade-register

Coordinates on Google Earth:

 38°40’10.09”N

126°35’45.57”E

and

 39°29’26.26”N

126° 0’0.10”E

Images from Recent KPA Exercises

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Korean People’s Air and Air Defense Forces S-125 (SA-3) being launched in a training Exercise

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A Battery of KPA SA-13’s firing in a training exercise

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A Battery of KPA D-74 Guns conduct target Practice

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