South Korea military received its first advanced high-altitude unmanned aircraft, RQ-4B Global Hawk, according to the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF).
The first RQ-4B Block 30 landed at a military airbase in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province on Monday.
The aircraft is the first to arrive in the country of the four RQ-4B Global Hawk aircraft South Korea has purchased from the U.S. The remaining three are expected to arrive next year. The ROKAF has not revealed details for its deployment plan.
The deployment of unmanned aerial vehicle is expected to strengthen South Korea’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities on the Korean Peninsula. The spy aircraft performs reconnaissance missions at high altitudes of up to 18 kilometers, providing a broad overview for an operational radius of up to 3,000 kilometers with systematic surveillance using high-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and long-range electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors.
As one of the most advanced intelligence-gathering platforms in the world, the long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle, manufactured by US defense company Northrop Grumman, is capable of performing reconnaissance missions for around 40 hours at a time at an altitude of roughly 20 kilometers.
Equipped with a state-of-the-art “multi-platform radar technology insertion program” ground surveillance radar sensor, Global Hawk can perform tasks to a range of up to 3,000 km and distinguish objects on the ground as small as 30 centimeters across, which is expected to enhance Seoul’s reconnaissance capabilities in the face of persistent threats by North Korea as well as growing security challenges from neighboring countries, according to the officials.
Arms procurement agency officials had said the local agency was mulling issuing a press release after the first one arrives here, but it decided not to do so “given various circumstances, such as the asset’s strategic significance.”
Such a low-key stance also appears to be in consideration of strong complaints from North Korea, which has lashed out at South Korea’s introduction of advanced weapons, calling it hostile acts.