North Korea’s (illegally supplied) armed Hughes 500E helicopters emerge after 30 years in the dark

On Jul. 27, North Korea staged a huge parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

Among the hardware that took part in the traditional flying parade, there were even a couple of Hughes 500E helicopters, armed with AT-3 Sagger missiles.

The North Korean “Little Birds” are an interesting addition to the display: since there were no images of them in North Korea, their presence in DPRK has long been considered a sort-of legend, even if the fact that they had been illegally supplied to Pyongyang was unveiled in the ’80s.

Most probably they didn’t fly a lot since they were delivered but during the 60th anniversary air parade, the light choppers flew quite low over the marching tanks, as if they were closely supporting ground operations.

DPRK 500E 2

AviationGraphic.com‘s Ugo Crisponi has drawn a rendering of the Hughes 500 helicopters in the North Korean Air Force markings.

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About David Cenciotti 3730 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.