GEAR & TECH

This howitzer helps North Korea threaten Seoul

While North Korea's efforts to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, that can deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental United States have generated headlines, a different home-brew weapons project is worth attention. That project developed a long-range self-propelled howitzer.


This deadly machine is called the Koksan, and according to MilitaryFactory.com, it can reach out and touch targets just over 37 miles away. The fact that this howitzer can move makes it even more lethal and hard to find.

A North-Korean-built M-1978 KOKSAN displayed at the Al Anbar University campus in Ramadi, Iraq is to be removed by U.S. Forces. (USMC photo)

The main cannon has a diameter of 170mm, or just under 6.7 inches. The barrel is long, appearing to be almost twice the length of the vehicle, a modified Chinese Type 59 main battle tank chassis. That vehicle can go up to 186 miles on a single tank of gas.

The Koksan looks a lot like the American-designed M107 175mm self-propelled howitzer, and in many ways, it fulfills the same function of providing long-range firepower. That said, the Koksan comes with a set of minuses.

And like the Akutan Zero, North Korea's Koksan howitzer is in American hands...and revealing its secrets. (USMC photo)

One of the biggest is that the howitzer is ungainly – largely due to the long barrel. It is also slow – with a top speed of just under 25 miles per hour. That's a problem when a M1A2 Abrams arrives. The gun also fires slowly – with two and a half minutes between rounds. The first version, the M1978, didn't even carry rounds with it.

A newer version, the M1989, which the North Koreans have paraded publicly, does have 12 rounds of ammo on the vehicle. This howitzer is probably more likely to be used in hardened defense positions. This has the benefit of protecting the crews better, but it does mean the howitzer's position is fixed.

You can see a video about this North Korean big gun below.