SEOUL -- Hanwha Systems, a key defense contractor affiliated with Hanwha Group, was selected to lead the development of an unmanned aerial vehicle that would be used for surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The homemade rotary-wing solution can be operated on land or naval vessels, especially in areas where constructing conventional runways is challenging.
Rotary-wing aircraft operate through wings that constantly spin during flight. Using a camera featuring optical and infrared functions, along with radar, the unmanned aerial vehicle can surveil the ground regardless of weather and other environmental challenges.
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), an arms procurement agency controlled by the defense ministry said Hanwha Systems has led the development project for the surveillance aircraft since December 2023. The unmanned solution will be deployed to warships and Marine troops in South Korea's northwestern coastal areas. According to DAPA, the northwestern region faces persistent provocations from North Korea. About 1.4 trillion won ($107 million) would be injected by December 2028.
"We hope the rotary-wing unmanned aircraft will be used in many different fields even in the private sector, particularly in regions where its operation was restricted," Kim Tae-gon, a DAPA official in charge of advanced technology development, said in a statement on January 29.
North Korea has fired missiles including ballistic missiles and cruise missiles 41 times in 2022 and 25 times in 2023. In January 2024, Pyongyang also fired some 200 artillery shots into the West Sea, also known as the Yellow Sea. These shells landed just north of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), established by the United Nations Command (UNC) in 1953 during the armistice negotiations that brought a ceasefire to the Korean War (1950~1953). Over the decades, Pyongyang has consistently challenged the NLL's legitimacy, claiming a different maritime boundary.
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