South Korea will be adding a U.S. Drone Intelligence System that will be used with the Global Hawk data to analyze images. The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is increasing over manned observation planes.
These systems are used by major militaries of the world that are now using drones and similar devices remotely operated or have artificial intelligence. Global Hawks and the drone systems are only the tip of the iceberg, reported Korea Joongang Daily.
Besides the drone upgrade, Seoul will also get one of the hottest selling F-35A Stealth fighters. They were bought from the U.S.
A deal for 16 more jets has been approved, said Seoul's arms procurement agency on Tuesday.
According to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), the new system will be used to examine all the visual intel gathered from North Korea.
Currently being used are four RQ-4 Block 30 Global Hawk drones that make-up the current number of the squadron doing all the reconnaissance.
Sources say that DAPA sent the cost for the new equipment to the South Korean Parliament to decide on. The equipment was supposed to be bought earlier, but the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. delayed talks to have it available by December 2020. Getting this system is crucial for South Korean defense too.
To date, the last of the orders from a 2011 purchase deal with the U.S. is done with the last of four RQ-4 spy drones received. The first three were delivered already.
Many are selling their versions of recon drones, from China to Russia and other countries. Above them are the American drones that are one of the costliest and most advanced to own. The Global Hawk is second to none in its purpose that has high-resolution imaging and even radar-equipped. Systems are accurate at two-kilometers and can see an object as small as 30 centimeters.
Loiter time for the RQ-4 to keep operating in any air space is from 38 to 42 hours. It can survey a total distance of 3,000 kilometers that places much of Northeastern Asia in its reconnaissance crosshairs. It is such a versatile system that it can look beyond South Korean ADIZ.
A combo of the RQ-4 and its spanking new imaging system will improve obtaining aerial recon photos without any help. For the most part, much of the photo intel about North Korea is from Washington.
Before getting the drone, only spy planes were used but cannot go beyond South Korea airspace. Visibility is not so good, and the limitation made it hard to gather enough intel on Nokor. One worry is that many nuclear sites like the Yongbyon nuclear complex or Tongchang-ri launch are too far.
One other update is the identification friend or foe (I.F.F.) system on the RQ-4 to Mode 5. This is needed to get to U.S. standards that will identify all components on the drone. An upgraded I.F.F. system makes it easier to tell who is the enemy or not.
These unmanned aerial vehicles are next generation that will fight alongside the F-35As as another node in a linked battlefield. Like the U.S., Seoul wants the abilities to be extended to other branches of the armed forces.
Having the U.S. Drone Intelligence System and other modern systems like the RQ-4 and F-35A will give Seoul the edge over North Korea.