South Korea intelligence recently revealed that in late 2010, after North Korea artillery fired on South Korea (Yeonpyeong Island), North Korea quickly made preparations for war. These preparations were apparently ordered without much warning. So too, apparently, was the attack on Yeonpyeong Island. What the South Korean intel analysts were particularly amazed by was the poor performance of the North Korean air force. It was known that North Korean pilots had been getting less and less flying time in the past decade, but when ordered into the air on a large scale to practice war plans, the results were amazingly bad. The flying skills of combat pilots was particularly bad, as was the performance of many aircraft (indicating poor maintenance). There were several crashes, and many near misses in the air, and a general sense of confusion among the North Korean Air Force commanders and troops.
While North Korea was apparently trying to impress, and intimidate, South Korea with this display of aerial might, the impact was just the opposite. With the exception of ten MiG-29s, the North Korean air force consists of several hundred Cold War era Russian and Chinese warplanes. The Chinese aircraft are knockoffs of older Russian designs, and most of the North Korean fleet consists of aircraft models that were getting old in the 1970s. The North Korean Air Force training exercise merely confirmed what many South Korean and American intelligence analysts already suspected. That the North Korean Air Force could barely fly, and hardly fight.