S.Korea Sends Drones to the North in Tit-for-Tat Move; Requests Stealth UAVs

  • Defensemirror.com Bureau
  • 03:52 PM, December 27, 2022
  • 1075
S.Korea Sends Drones to the North in Tit-for-Tat Move; Requests Stealth UAVs
RoKAF RQ-4 Block 30 UAV

South Korea reportedly sent drones across the border into North Korea for the first time on Monday, a retaliation to Kim Jong Un's regime dispatching five UAVs into its air space after a gap of more than five years.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the first North Korean drone crossed the border at 10:25 am and returned after flying for about three hours. Four more were detected in the afternoon and later vanished from radar. These hostile UAVs allegedly conducted reconnaissance and photographed military facilities.

The North Korean UAVs crossed the military demarcation line and appeared in Paju, Gimpo, on Ganghwa Island, causing the temporary suspension of 30 civilian flights at Seoul’s airports.

Yonhap News Agency said one may have come into the Seoul area to possibly take photos of the presidential office. South Korea's military said it responded by scrambling fighter jets and military helicopters, with local media including Yonhap saying about 100 shots were fired at North Korean drones that broached its airspace near western coastal islands.

South Korea wants to buy stealthy drones

President Yoon Suk Yeol on Tuesday called for stronger air defenses and high-tech stealth drones.

“We have a plan to create a military drone unit tasked with monitoring key military facilities in North Korea. But we'll advance the establishment of the drone unit as soon as possible because of Monday’s incident,” the president said during a regular Cabinet Council meeting. “We'll also introduce state-of-the art stealth drones and bolster our surveillance capability."

In its budget for 2023, South Korea had reduced the amount set aside for short-range reconnaissance drones by 14 billion won ($11 million). It remains to be seen whether the latest provocation by the North would have any effect on the military’s spending.

Lieutenant General Kang Shin Chul, chief director of operation at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged in a televised statement that South Korea lacks capacities to detect and strike small surveillance drones with a wingspan of less than three metre (9.8 feet) though it has assets to spot and bring down bigger combat drones.

Seoul ordered four RQ-4 Global Hawks from U.S. company Northrop Grumman for 965.9 billion won ($812 million) in 2014. First aircraft delivered to the South Korean military in December 2019, and the last one in October 2020.

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