South Korea to Double Military Drone Fleet by 2026

In 2022, Seoul established the Drone Operations Command after North Korean drones infiltrated its airspace before returning to the North.
  • bureau
  • 08:54 AM, May 2, 2024
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South Korea to Double Military Drone Fleet by 2026
NI-600VT (Night Intruder-600) unmanned copter @KAI

South Korea's Yoon Suk Yeol government announced plans on Thursday to more than double its military drone fleet by 2026, aiming to enhance readiness against potential threats from North Korea's unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The decision was made during a meeting of the presidential Defense Innovation Committee chaired by National Security Adviser Chang Ho-jin. The Defense Innovation Committee has been active since its inception in May 2023, with Thursday's meeting marking the fifth session.

The committee focused on strategies to bolster drone capabilities directly tied to the military's readiness posture, according to President Yoon Suk Yeol's office.

The government’s strategies discussed include diversifying acquisition methods, expediting procurement of domestically produced commercial drones, and accelerating deployment of drones currently in the research and development stage for active battle use.

Specific details such as the type of drones to be acquired and the budget allocation for this initiative were not disclosed by Yoon's office.

This announcement follows the establishment of the Drone Operations Command in Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province, in response to North Korea's provocative actions in December 2022, when North Korean drones infiltrated South Korean airspace near Seoul before returning to the North.

The Defense Innovation Committee also discussed measures to enhance combat effectiveness during the meeting. The government plans to increase state funding for weapon modernization programs to 5% of the total state budget, up from the current 1%. Details regarding the timeline for this increased funding were not provided.

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