North Korea
North Korea has tested nuclear weapons twice.Reuters

Amidst its nuclear war threat, North Korea seems to be silently preparing for war. Since late 2015, the reclusive state under the dictatorship of Kim Jong-un is reportedly preparing its highways to be used as airstrips in emergency. This has been backed up with commercial satellite imagery, IHS Jane's Defence Weekly reported.

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The satellite imagery clearly shows the so-called hermit state building aircraft shelters, and contingency airfields.

Though such developments may not be alarming, the blatant threats it issues to US and South Korea of launching missiles and waging nuclear war against them has to be noted. The report notes that this could be part of the Korean People's Air Force (KPAF) modernisation programme.

The imagery reveals some highway airstrips to be moderately serviced and others to be well maintained. It also reported that those airfields that were near the airbases and cities were in a better condition. They were also said to be used occasionally for training, so that pilots gain familiarity.

It was further revealed that the KPAF's contingency airfields were larger than the highway airstrips but in poorer condition.

The report says, the modernisation has probably helped in saving the airfields from decline, though they still cannot perform extended jet operations. These airstrips are suited for light aircraft and helicopters.

In 2015, BBC had reported that it was hard to get any accurate assessment of the KPAF's military strength, and fly-pasts shown on the strictly controlled state media reveal rather obsolete planes.

KPAF is believed to have had aircraft like MiG-29 fighters, MiG-21 fighters (Chengdu J-7), MiG-19s (Shenyang J-6), Sukhoi Su-25 strike aircraft, MiG-15s, Shenyang F-5, MiG-23s and Antonov An-2 biplanes. Perhaps the most modern among the aircraft it has are the Su-25 Frogfoot bombers, which were delivered around 1988.

Jane's Defence Weekly had reported in 2010 that KPAAF pilots could only fly 15-25 hours annually due to fuel shortages. But this could have eased.

According to the Military Balance 2015, International Institute for Strategic Studies, North Korea has 563 combat aircraft.

North Korea relies heavily on its Army or the Korean People's Army Ground Force (KPAGF), with thousands of tanks and artillery pieces. South Korea on the other hand has some of the best US weapons and aircraft including several hundreds of F5, F15 and F16 fighter jets and fighter bombers.