North Korea’s Next-Generation Battle Tank: M2020

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10th October 2020 marked the 75th Anniversary of the foundation of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), the ruling party of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). This took place in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, through Kim Il-sung Street. During this parade, new and very powerful nuclear Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM), as well as a new Main Battle Tank (MBT) that has intrigued many military analysts, have been shown for the first time, arousing great interest. It has been given an unofficial name as the “M2020” tank.

The chassis of the 2020 MBT is original, with 7 road wheels, not 6 as traditionally in North Korea, a feature that is most often found on the most modern heavy tanks, such as the Abrams M1, the Leopard 2 or the T-14 armada. Note that, as on the T-14, the first wheel seemed shifted on the front and more spaced from the rest of the moving train. A protective ventilation grille protects the rear of the armored vehicle, which reinforces the resemblance to the latest Russian products. The increased number of road wheels will increase the length of the track in contact with the ground, and consequently reduce the nominal ground pressure (NGP). More importantly, it will reduce the peaks of the ground pressure which occur under the road wheels and which govern, to a large extent, performance on soft ground.

The new tank looked remarkably like the Russian-produced Armata. The design of the tank has many similarities and repeats the image presented at the military parade in Moscow in 2019 and 2020. Reportedly, the upgraded North-Korea tank received a new reactive armor system, a new anti-tank missile system, and some experts indicate the possible installation of an active protection system.

It is assumed that the main armament is, like in the case of the Songun-Ho, the North Korean copy of the 125 mm Russian 2A46 tank gun and not the 115 mm North Korean copy of the Soviet 115 mm 2A20 cannon. The dimensions are obviously larger and it is also unlikely that the North Koreans would have mounted an older generation cannon on what appears to be such a technologically advanced vehicle.

The vehicle appears to have ERA (Explosive Reactive Armor) on the side skirts, as on the T-14 Armata and composite spaced armor covering the front and side of the turret. There are a total of 12 grenade launcher tubes on the lower sides of the turret, in groups of three, six frontal and six lateral.

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