Artillery: North Korea Rolls Its Own


July 29, 2013: North Korea has been replacing older towed Type 63 107mm rocket launchers near the DMZ with some of the new M1991 (mounted on trucks) 240mm models. The Type 63 is a Russian design, introduced in the 1960s and given to North Korea, along with the right to produce their own local version (the Type 75). The 602 kg (1,330 pound) launcher holds twelve 18.8 kg (42 pound) 107mm rockets, each with a 1.3 kg high explosive (2.9 pound) warhead. With a range of only eight kilometers the Type 75 was normally assigned to regiments (six per regiment) and towed by trucks or, when emplacing the launcher close to the battle line, hauled short distances up hills or through nasty terrain by animals or troops. There are longer range 107mm rockets (up to 11 kilometers) available. There have also been variants of the basic Type 63/75 launcher, modified to handle larger (130mm, 140mm) rockets. While largely obsolete, many nations that cannot afford more modern weapons, or simply never throw anything away, still have Type 63s in use or in reserve. Thus some showed up during the 2011 Libyan civil war.

As the North Korean Type 75s are being removed from their front line positions, their replacements appear to be truck mounted 22 tube 240mm rocket launchers. This system has been around since 1991, and is called the M1991. The 400 kg (880 pound) 240mm rocket has a range of 30 or 60 kilometers. The 50 kg (110 pound) warhead is lighter in the longer range version. The new, longer range 240mm rocket is in limited production. Both versions of the rocket can be used in the same launcher. The launcher is apparently designed to be fitted on any 6x6 truck that can handle the weight of the rockets (8.8 tons) and the launcher itself (about 5 tons). Any commercial truck used as a dump (or garbage) truck will do. Examples of the M1991 seen in parades appear to be using a Rumanian truck. North Korea cannot produce many of these new 240mm launchers because of cash and materials shortages. Unable to build its own trucks, North Korea has to scrounge together the cash to buy foreign made vehicles.