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  • It's a rumble in the jungle, a showdown on the  38th parallel. The hermit kingdom of North Korea  

  • versus the United States of America. Kim Jong  Un vs... well, we're not sure who really because  

  • this script was written before the presidential  election. It's the American bald eagle versus  

  • the North Korean... trash pigeon?... doesn't  really seem like North Korea has an official  

  • national animal. It's a showdown the world's  been expecting for decades, but how do these  

  • two antagonist powers stack up? Who really has the  advantage in a showdown on the Korean Peninsula?

  • For this scenario let's compare the two  countries alone, and without the help of allies,  

  • to see how they really measure up against each  other. Overall the United States is ranked as  

  • the world's number 1 military power, and  currently the only global superpower.  

  • It's a common mistake to call Russia or China  superpowers, but the definition of a superpower  

  • is a state that can exert economic, culturaland military influence worldwide. Currently,  

  • the US is the only nation with the military  fleets and cultural/economic clout to do so.

  • North Korea is no slouch though in the  military department, and despite being  

  • a financially destitute hermit kingdom, it's  managed to field a military that places it at  

  • the number 25 spot in global rankings. This is  because most of the official budget of the North  

  • Korean government goes to its militaryand the military also receives hundreds  

  • of millions in covert financing, typically the  result of state-sponsored criminal enterprises

  • In terms of manpower, the United States fields  an active duty force of 1.4 million personnel,  

  • versus North Korea's 1.28 million. The US  also fields a greater force of reservists,  

  • with 860,000 personnel vs North Korea's reserve  force of 600,000. The US barely has the numbers  

  • advantage here, but in a grueling multi-year  conflict, the US has the population advantage,  

  • with 4.2 million reaching service age every  year versus North Korea's measely 415,000.  

  • If North Korea wants to win, clearly it has  to secure victory as quickly as possible.

  • Wars cost money though, and turns out  it's an extremely expensive affair.  

  • The latest US defense budget is about $750  billion, versus North Korea's 1.6 billion.  

  • This ofcourse is only the official government  figure, and North Korea's real defense budget  

  • is easily hundreds of millions greater thanks to  all that black market activity- remember kids,  

  • doing drugs may seem tubular, but you're  just helping north korea go nuclear.

  • But let's check out all the  toys that those big budgets buy.

  • In the air the US fields 13,264  aircraft, versus North Korea's 949.  

  • Not only is there a massive numbers disparitybut a huge disparity in capabilities as well.

  • The US currently relies on the F-15 Eagle, and  the F-18 Superhornet as its primary air defense  

  • and air attack platforms. These two aircraft are  4th generation models, but have received serious  

  • upgrades to their capabilities which boost them  into a 4.5th generation capability. Complimenting  

  • US fighter forces are 187 F-22s, the world's  only fully operational 5th generation fighter  

  • and officially the world's deadliest fighter  aircraft. As more and more F-35s come online  

  • however and achieve initial operational  capability status, the entire US fighter  

  • fleet is poised to become fully 5th generation, a  significant battlefield advantage against any foe.

  • North Korean air forces are decades behind the  US in capability. It's most numerous fighter  

  • aircraft, the Chengdu J-7, was developed in the  1960s and exported by China. It's most capable  

  • aircraft, the Mig-29, was developed in the 1970s  as a counter to the American F-15- however North  

  • Korea's Mig 29s number at only 35, and it's  believed that they lack anything resembling  

  • modern avionics. To make matters worse, North  Korea's entire inventory of air-to-air missiles  

  • herald back to the Cold War, and the  nation possesses less than 500 of them.

  • An air battle between the US and North Korea would  be hopeless for the hermit kingdom, which is why  

  • its pilots are trained in kamikaze tactics. If war  were to break out, North Korea's air force would  

  • launch one-way attacks across the DMZ, knowing  its air force could never survive an air war.

  • In the mountainous terrain of North Koreaperhaps no aircraft is more important however  

  • than the attack helicopter. Capable of taking  out armored forces and providing recon and fire  

  • support in places regular aircraft would find  it difficult to operate, attack helicopters  

  • would be of paramount importance in a showdown  between the two countries. The United States  

  • fields an inventory of 967 Apache helicoptersone of the deadliest attack helos ever built.  

  • Not only is each Apache equipped with  state of the art electronics and sensors,  

  • but these agile birds are extremely tough  to boot. When an entire flight of Apaches  

  • was ambushed in a protracted battle against  insurgents on the ground in Afghanistan,  

  • the US famously only lost a single bird  while decimating ground forces below them.

  • North Korea's 20 attack helos are Soviet-built  Mig-24 'Hinds', an extremely capable attack  

  • helicopter that despite being dated, still packs  an impressive punch. Good thing for US ground  

  • forces that North Korea only operates a small  amount of these powerful Russian birds of prey.

  • On the ground, North Korea is almost neck and  neck with the US in terms of armored forces.  

  • With 6,045 combat tanks versus the US's 6,289,  the two tank armies are almost evenly matched in  

  • terms of numbers. In terms of quality thoughwell, North Korea once more suffers greatly.

  • North Korea's most formidable tank isnative upgrade to the Soviet T-62 known  

  • as Chnma-ho. With the T-62 being North Korea's  most numerous, nearly modern design, large numbers  

  • of them were upgraded with new armor, fire and  sighting systems, and other sensors. In effect,  

  • these may be upgraded designs, but the core  model is still the 1960's era T-62. It's known  

  • that North Korea operates at least 1,000 of  these tanks, but may have upwards of 1,200.

  • North Korea's second most prolific  tank is the T-54 and T-55,  

  • of which it operates 2,000. These datedunderpowered tanks were terrifying when  

  • first fielded by the Soviet Union in the 50s,  but as Iraq found out in the first gulf war,  

  • present absolutely zero threat to the  US's modern Abrams. On the ground,  

  • North Korea's tank forces simply could not hope  to do more than delay an American armored advance.

  • One area where North Korea rises above the US  though is in the size of its rocket artillery  

  • forces, fielding 2,110 versus the US's 1,366.  Rocket artillery may not have the endurance of  

  • fire of traditional artillery, but provides  one extremely crucial advantage over regular  

  • artillery- by firing all of its munitions in  extremely rapid succession, rocket artillery puts  

  • all of its steel on target within seconds, giving  troops and vehicles little time to seek cover.  

  • While the US fields more modern versions of rocket  projectors, the technology is so simple that even  

  • North Korea's soviet-era technology posessignificant and deadly threat to US forces.

  • On the seas, the US fields a fleet of  490 ships versus North Korea's 984.  

  • North Korea may seem to have the  advantage in numbers, but that's  

  • because the vast majority of its ships are  small torpedo boats that can't operate far  

  • from shore. The second largest element of  North Korea's navy is its underwater forces,  

  • with one of the world's largest submarine  forces numbering anywhere between 60 to 80.

  • 40 of these subs are the mediumsized diesel electric Sang-O class,  

  • built in the late 90s. While not particularly  advanced versus the US Navy's Los Angeles and  

  • Virginia class nuclear submarines, diesel-electric  submarines used in a defensive posture close  

  • to shore can be an incredibly effective  force, even if technologically outclassed.  

  • By loitering near the shore and  running silently on battery power,  

  • North Korea could simply choose to have  these subs lie in wait for oncoming US  

  • ships and launch deadly ambushes. The nation's  willingness to operate these craft in a kamikaze  

  • style similar to its air force only adds to the  deadliness of North Korea's submarine force.

  • By comparison the US operates 66 submarines, most  of which are Los Angeles class attack submarines.  

  • These are in the process of being phased out  by the new Virginia class, which incorporates  

  • many of the Seawolf class technologies atlower cost- and thus with less effectiveness  

  • than the deadly Seawolf, which is sadly far  too expensive to field in large numbers.  

  • 3 of the legendary Seawolf class submarines  remain in service with the Navy, with no  

  • near-term plans to retire them, though  the Navy is planning on acquiring a new  

  • modern variant of the Seawolf to use on  extremely important or sensitive missions.

  • With 20 aircraft carriers, which includes smaller  carriers meant to support amphibious operations,  

  • the US is guaranteed to have air power anywhere in  the world it needs it. By comparison North Korea  

  • has zero aircraft carriers, and could not hope to  ever operate one in its current economic climate-  

  • let alone ensure it survives  first contact against US forces.

  • Despite all of these naval advantages to  the US though, North Korea once more has  

  • the advantage in one area: mine warfare. With  23 vessels specially equipped to mine sea lanes,  

  • versus the US's 11, North Korea is poised to  make an amphibious attack against it by the  

  • superior US fleet a costly affair in terms of  manpower and equipment. Clearing sea mines is  

  • an extremely time consuming and dangerous  affair, and with so many mine-laying ships  

  • North Korea could make entire beaches and  ports completely inaccessible to US forces.

  • The military advantage is clearly in favor of  the United States, but a showdown between the  

  • two countries is far more nuanced than merely  comparing numbers. The US must maintain global  

  • commitments even during a war, meaning that it  wouldn't be able to commit more than 30-40% of its  

  • total force to a conflict with North Korea. That  brings the number parity way down on the US side,  

  • though the US's far superior equipment and  training, or force multipliers, practically ensure  

  • a US victory. However, it would be an extremely  costly victory for the US and its allies,  

  • as North Korea is well prepared to make a push  north from South Korea an exceedingly bloody  

  • affair. With its mine laying capabilitiesthe North Korean navy could make the ocean  

  • around the Korean peninsula inaccessible for  weeks, disrupting not just military operations  

  • but civilian traffic as well and shutting down  one of the busiest trade arteries in the world.

  • Then there's North Korea's nuclear programthe full extent of which is still not known.  

  • What is clear is that North Korea has the  materials and technology for several bombs-  

  • some estimates place the current North Korean  stockpile at 30-40 weapons. Even though most  

  • of these weapons couldn't reach the US mainlandthey would make any conflict on the peninsula an  

  • extremely dangerous affair- with a losing Kim Jong  Un likely to decide to use nuclear weapons against  

  • US forces and South Korea rather than be  deposed as so many dictators before him.

  • Now go check out Weird Things That Only Exist  in North Korea, or this other video instead!

It's a rumble in the jungle, a showdown on the  38th parallel. The hermit kingdom of North Korea  

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North Korea vs United States (USA) - 2021 Military / Army Comparison

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/12/08
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