Despite appearing in recent parades, this is the first time this tank has been seen in a live-fire exercise.
North Korean state media has released the first footage of the country’s next-generation tank, the M2020. The tank display was part of activities to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War.
The M2020 was first launched in October 2020. Since then, despite appearing at other parades in Pyongyang, the tank has yet to be seen in combat operations. From the latest video, the tank appeared at a shooting range and fired an unknown ammunition from the 125mm main gun, similar to the previous generation models.
The official name of the new tank has not been revealed yet. Some Western analysts refer to it as “M2020”. Very little information has been revealed about this tank, but it is speculated that the vehicle is designed to be able to perform well in mountainous terrain like previous generations of North Korean combat vehicles. Based on its design, it seems to incorporate some of the features found on other advanced main battle tanks such as the US M1 Abrams tank or the Russian T-14 Armata tank.
Unlike the M1 Abrams, which weighs around 70 tons, North Korea’s newest tank appears to be much lighter. The more mountainous terrain of the North favors smaller and more agile platforms. The tank’s main gun is derived from the Russian 2A46 125 mm gun, which are also used on the Chonma-216 and Songun-915 tanks. A coaxial machine gun is located left of the main gun and an AGS-30 grenade launcher is located on the left side of the roof of the turret. In addition, the new tanks also sported a pair of anti-tank missiles on the right turret side, which may be copies or variants of an older Soviet-designed anti-tank missile.
The front of the turret’s armor is angled similarly to the M1 Abrams. The hull of the tank features armor plates on the sides, with slat armor on the rear sides protecting the engine just like the T-14. The tank is equipped with composite armor that is believed to be on par with ones equipped on third generation main battle tanks and is possibly modular in design. Clearly, North Korea would like observers to think that their new tank incorporates the latest in composite armor, though this is difficult to confirm.
The “M2020” tank is believed to powered by a 1,200 horsepower engine used on the Songun-915 tanks. The estimated mass of the tank is 55 tons, or above 50 tons. The roof of the turret features panoramic sights and a meteorological mast on the right side, and smoke grenade launchers at the rear of the turret protected by slat armor.
Despite this new platform’s angular and modern-looking hull and turret lines, it is possible that it shares some design features with the much older Soviet-designed T-62. In fact, Pyongyang has a history of modifying the T-62 to meet their own particular needs, and it would not be surprising if this tank, like other North Korean tanks, is of the T-62 lineage rather than representing a from-scratch design.
North Korea was one of the few countries that developed a new tank model after the Cold War. Korean sources revealed that more than 500 Pokpung Ho have been put into service and it is possible that the new tank is also in the process of mass production. There are many questions surrounding this tank, whether the new tanks have actually been put into service or are still being tested?