A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Joseph S. Bermudez Jr.
New commercial satellite imagery indicates military parade preparation and training continues to gradually expand at the Mirim Parade Training Facility, with a noticeable increase in the number of personnel and vehicles present. As of January 28, there were at least 12,000 troops and 110 artillery pieces, tanks, armored personnel carriers and armored fighting vehicles practicing on the training grounds. However, there are no signs of ballistic missile or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) launchers on the parade ground or at the heavy vehicle storage area. Given previous practices, these vehicles are the last to arrive—usually only a week or so before the parade.
Shelters for the missile launchers and other heavy equipment including long-range, self-propelled artillery, missile transporters, etc., were erected several weeks ago at the heavy equipment storage area where they have been previously housed, but no equipment or vehicles are currently visible. The presence of several heavy tow-trucks on the east side of the yard, however, suggests that there is at least some of this equipment already stored within the shelters. Based on how this area has previously been used and is currently configured, there is probably covered shelter space for approximately 30 missile launchers and other pieces of heavy equipment.
The parade is largely expected to be one of the activities on February 8 to celebrate the foundation of the Korean People’s Army. In the past, when massive parades were being prepared, additional housing was erected in the east end of the facility. So far, there are no signs of this “tent city” being erected, suggesting this parade will remain relatively smaller in scale. Even with the large number of vehicles and heavy equipment present, it is unlikely they will all be used in the formal proceedings, as it is customary to have some on hand in case of mechanical failures during the proceedings.
Figure 1. Overview of the Mirim Parade Training Facility and its surroundings as it appeared on January 28, 2018.
Figure 2. Increased numbers of personnel and vehicles are practicing in formation at the Mirim Parade Training Facility.
Figure 3. At the northwest parking area, there are formations of artillery pieces, tanks, armored personnel carriers and armored fighting vehicles moving along the perimeter road.
Figure 4. The northeast parking area is empty, as the vehicles previously seen here are practicing on the perimeter road.
Figure 5. Formations of troops, artillery pieces, tanks, armored personnel carriers and armored fighting vehicles are practicing on the perimeter road.
Figure 6. Numerous troops (including the military bands), small vehicles and buses are seen in formation in the area configured as Kim Il Sung Square.
Figure 7. No activity of significance is observed in the eastern section of the facility. The absence of a “tent city” seen during previous large parades indicates that the upcoming parade is likely to be somewhat smaller.
Figure 8. No vehicles or equipment are visible in the heavy equipment storage area, but the presence of heavy tow-trucks on the east side of the yard suggests that some equipment has already been stored within the shelters.