S.Korea Develops Suicide Combat Drone

South Korea has developed a prototype self-destructing drone capable of precision attacks on North Korean coastal artillery batteries or rocket launchers. Military authorities expect to deploy it warfare-ready in 2016 once it has been honed and tested.

Korea Aerospace Industries unveiled the drone, dubbed "Devil Killer," in Seoul on Thursday. Developed jointly by KAI, Hanyang University and Konkuk University, it has a 1.5 m fuselage and a 1.3 m wingspan and weighs 25 kg. Foldable wings make it easy to support.

/Yonhap /Yonhap

The drone can fly at a maximum speed of 350-400 km/h and strike a target within a 40 km radius within 10 minutes. If deployed on Yeonpyeong Island, for example, it would take four minutes to hit North Korea's Kaemori Base, from where it shelled the island in November 2010.

The drone "can chase and strike even high-speed hovercraft running at a speed of 80 km/h," the KAI said.

The drone can automatically identify targets with a video camera and GPS device. It can carry about 3 kg of explosives, which is equivalent to 10 hand grenades, a spokesman said.

Conventional howitzers are less accurate when they strike military bases hidden behind a mountain or concealed coastal artillery batteries. Missiles are capable of precision strikes but impossible to use in large quantities because they are so expensive. The new drone will cost about W100 million (US$1=W1,128).

The North is also reportedly developing a kamikaze attack drone based on the U.S.' MQM-107D Streaker.

englishnews@chosun.com / Sep. 14, 2012 10:11 KST