South Korea says it's producing 'mini' surveillance drones
SEOUL, South Korea — As North Korea watchers look for signs of a missile launch in upcoming weeks, South Korea’s defense acquisition agency has announced it is producing “mini” drones for surveillance.
The drones, which will be distributed to South Korea’s army and marines in the next three years, have the ability to “surveil and transmit images on a real-time basis around the clock,” the Defense Acquisition Program Administration said in a statement.
The drones are 4.6 feet long, nearly 6 feet wide and can fly hour-long missions at speeds of up to 50 mph, Yonhap News reported.
Although DAPA’s statement did not mention North Korea, the drones are thought to be intended to monitor the Koreas’ tense land and sea border, which was the site of the latest provocation by Pyongyang last month. A land mine planted by the North exploded and maimed two South Korean soldiers while on routine patrol in the Demilitarized Zone.
The incident caused tensions to spiral as the Koreas resumed propaganda broadcasts across the DMZ, though officials ultimately negotiated an agreement after three days of talks at the border village of Panmunjom.
Analysts have speculated that Pyongyang might conduct a missile launch as part of celebrations surrounding the Oct. 10 anniversary of its ruling Worker’s Party.
A CNN report released Wednesday quoted senior North Korean space program officials as saying a satellite launch was “imminent” and the country would soon send rockets and satellites into space for peaceful purposes. Experts, however, believe the North uses rocket launches as a cover for missile tests.
Meanwhile, U.S. and South Korean officials are holding annual high-level defense talks this week in Seoul. A spokesman for South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, said the allies will discuss how to respond to the nuclear threat posed by the North and the eventual transfer of wartime operational control to the South.
They will also discuss their “4-D” operational concept of detection, defense, disruption and destroying North Korean missiles and nuclear weapons, he said.