Koksan (artillery)

The M-1978 Koksan is a 170 mm self-propelled gun of North Korean design and manufacture. Very little information is available due to the secretive nature of the North Korean government. The designations M-1978 and Koksan were given to the type by American military analysts, as they first became aware of it in that year in Koksan, North Korea.[2]

M-1978 Koksan
Koksan M-1978 170 mm artillery piece. Iraq, 2008
TypeSelf-propelled artillery
Place of originNorth Korea
Service history
In service1978 - present
Used byNorth Korea, Iran
WarsIran–Iraq War
Production history
ManufacturerSecond Machine Industry Bureau, North Korea
  • M-1978 Koksan
  • M-1989 Koksan

Caliber170 mm
Rate of fire~1-2 rounds per 5 minutes
Effective firing range~40 km (standard munition), 60 km (booster munition)[1]
Maximum firing range60 km (with RAP round)

170 mm (~6.69") gun
SuspensionTorsion bar
~300 km
Speed~40 km/h

What is known is that it is a 170 mm (~6.69") self-propelled gun of the open turret type. It was first seen publicly during a military parade in 1985. At least one example has been acquired by the United States.


According to Jane's, the Koksan is based on a Chinese Type 59 tank chassis. The 170 mm gun is in an open mount with no superstructure, and is stabilized when firing by two large folding spades at the rear. The gun has a range that would allow it to strike Seoul from the Korean Demilitarized Zone.[citation needed]

The 170 mm gun itself is a previously unknown type, possibly Russian coastal-defence or ex-naval weapon, though the Soviet/Russian navies are not known to have used this caliber intermediate between their usual 152mm and 203mm calibers, however the German armed forces during World War II did use 17 cm caliber howitzers, indicating that this weapon may have been designed to use Soviet-supplied stocks of captured German wartime ammunition. The M-1978 version carried no on-board ammunition supply.[citation needed]

In 1989, a new version of the Koksan appeared, that was designated the M-1989. The main difference was a lengthened chassis that allows 12 rounds of ammunition to be carried. It carries a crew of four; the remaining four personnel needed to man the gun ride in an accompanying ammunition and support vehicle.[citation needed]

Unlike its predecessor, the M-1989 has occasionally been put on public display by the North Koreans during parades and news broadcasts.[3][4]


A Koksan found on the campus of the University of Anbar is removed by US Marines (2008)

Little is publicly known about how North Korea organizes and deploys its artillery. It has been suggested that M-1978's and M-1989's equipped battalions consist of 12 guns, 20-30 trucks and 150-190 personnel, organized into a battalion headquarters and three batteries with four guns per battery. Battalions are organized into a brigade consisting of 3 to 6 battalions. The brigade has a brigade headquarters and supporting engineer, air-defense and target acquisition units.[3]

In 1987, several M-1978s were supplied to Iran, and used during the Iran–Iraq War. When using rocket-assisted projectiles, a range of almost 60 kilometres (37 mi) could be achieved, making the weapon the world's longest-ranged field artillery piece at the time. Iranian forces used them to carry out long-range harassment fire against Kuwaiti oil fields.[5]

A number of the Iranian guns were subsequently captured by the Iraqis and placed on public display. At least one of these was recovered by US Marines in 2008 from the campus of the University of Anbar.[6]


Map with Koksan operators in blue

Current operators

Former operators

See also

  • 2S7 Pion, a similar Soviet heavy self-propelled artillery piece
  • M110 howitzer, heavy SPG formerly used by the United States


  1. https://missilethreat.csis.org/missile/koksan-m1978/
  2. "M1978 Koksan 170-mm self-propelled gun". www.military-today.com. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  3. Bermudez , Joseph S. (July 2011). "M-1978 and M-1989 170 mm Self- Propelled Guns, Part II" (PDF). KPA Journal. 2 (7): 1.
  4. http://worldmilitaryintel.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/blog-post_8022.html North Korea photos | World Military and Police Forces
  5. "M-1978 / M1989 (KOKSAN) 170mm self propelled (SP) gun". globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  6. Bermudez , Joseph S. (June 2011). "M-1978 and M-1989 170 mm Self- Propelled Guns, Part I" (PDF). KPA Journal. 2 (6): 1.