Pokpung-ho (Storm Tiger) (M-2002) Main Battle Tank (MBT)
The North Korean Pokpung-ho main battle tank is thought to be a heavy modification of the Russian T-62 with elements borrowed from other Russian tanks as well.
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Despite a design origin that possibly dates back to the late 1980s, the Pokpung-ho ("Storm Tiger") Main Battle Tank remains something of an enigma to observers outside of North Korea. For a time, the tank was known in the West under the codename of "M-2002" as its existence was confirmed in the year 2002 while undergoing performance evaluation trials. It is believed that the Pokpung-ho entered service in 1992 and today represents one of the most modern tank offerings of the North Korean Army. The Pokpung-hu was further unveiled in public during a 2010 North Korean Army military parade, solidifying its existence to Western observers.
Design of the Pokpung-ho is accredited to the Second Machine Industry Bureau with production being handled out of the Ryu Kyong-su Tank Factory of Sinhung, South Hamgyong Province in North Korea. As very little concrete information is currently available on the tank, it is believed that the Pokpung-ho is something of a "mish-mash" of collected technologies from other Soviet-era and Chinese main battle tanks - from the T-62 and T-72 to the T-80, T-90 and the Chinese Type 88. The North Koreans had garnered some experience in the upgrading of Soviet systems when they undertook a program to modernize their T-62 fleet to create the indigenous Chonma-ho ("Sky Horse") Main Battle Tank. It is believed that the Pokpung-ho program was developed in response to the poor showing that Soviet T-72s had in the 1991 Gulf War with the Iraqi Army, falling to the mastery and firepower of American M1 Abrams crews in large numbers. Its sworn enemy, South Korea, maintains the capable K1 Main Battle Tank in several thousand examples and has since moved ahead with mass production of the K2 "Black Panther" - a system with performance qualities not unlike the American M1. The Pokpung-ho, therefore, is something of a North Korean design intended to bring her land forces to something of a modernized state.