N.Korean Suicide Drones 'Can Strike Anywhere in S.Korea'

A drone unveiled on North Korean regime founder Kim Il-sungs 100th birthday in April 2012 /[North] Korean Central TV A drone unveiled on North Korean regime founder Kim Il-sung's 100th birthday in April 2012 /[North] Korean Central TV

Unmanned attack aircraft North Korea unveiled in 2012 could be capable of striking anywhere on South Korea, the military here speculates. A considerable number of these suicide drones have reportedly already been deployed warfare-ready.

A military source on Sunday said the attack drones unveiled during a parade in April 2012 "were first believed to have a maximum radius of operations of 250 km. But closer analysis shows that they have a range of 600 to 800 km."

The source claimed up to 100 of these aircraft have already been put in position ready for action.

An attack drone flies toward its target carrying explosives and then self-destructs. It is about 5.8 m long, has a wingspan of 5.6 m, and is believed capable of speeds up to 400 km/h.

Back in 2010 and 2011, the North purchased several American-made MQM-107D Streakers from a Middle Eastern country presumed to be Syria and remodeled them into attack drones. The Streakers are used as aerial targets during tests of surface-to-air missiles.

The North Korean attack aircraft are believed to be capable of flying horizontally at a low altitude just like a cruise missile, but to be less accurate than South Korea's Hyunmu-3 missile or the U.S.' Tomahawk cruise missile.

They fly along a preset path adjusted by a GPS tracking device. The longer they fly, the lighter the payload, which at maximum range still amounts to scores of kilograms.

It is possible to detect or intercept them with short-range surface-to-air missiles or antiaircraft guns.

englishnews@chosun.com / Apr. 07, 2014 12:19 KST