September 16, 2011 08:05
A U.S. military newspaper says the United States expects to soon deploy sophisticated Global Hawk drone surveillance aircraft near South Korea's tense border with North Korea.
The Stars and Stripes newspaper quotes senior intelligence officers saying an agreement with South Korea is "very close." Reuters news agency reported earlier this month that members of the U.S. Congress have been told the U.S. government is also negotiating to sell the spy planes to Seoul.
Northrop Grumman, the maker of the RQ-4 Global Hawk, says the plane has the ability to view targets at a distance of some 550 kilometers, meaning the drones could peer deep into North Korea without crossing the border.
Stars and Stripes quotes military experts saying the flights will enable U.S. intelligence agencies to update databases on military movements and missile sites in North Korea.
The drones, which are currently used in Iraq and Afghanistan, are equipped with long-range and infrared cameras, radar and listening devices that can intercept foreign military signals.
South Korea is anxious to boost its intelligence gathering capability following two military attacks that killed 50 people last year.
Stars and Stripes is managed by the U.S. Defense Department but has editorial independence from it.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.
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