January 27, 2016 09:50
The U.S. wants to deploy cutting-edge attack drones in South Korea this year to improve defenses against North Korea.
A source on Tuesday said Washington is pushing for the deployment of the MQ-1C Gray Eagle with the U.S. Forces Korea this year and already conducted tests of the drone at its Gunsan airbase here last year.
Currently the USFK has only the Shadow 200 unmanned aerial vehicle, whose capabilities are far inferior to the Gray Eagle.
The Gray Eagle is an improved version of the Predator UAV that was widely used in Iraq and Afghanistan to try and kill al-Qaeda leaders. It has more powerful attack, flight, and reconnaissance capabilities than its predecessor.
Equipped with all-weather night surveillance equipment including an infrared camera, the Gray Eagle is capable of flying for about 30 hours non-stop and would play a leading role in watching the North Korean military if threats mount along the demilitarized zone or near the Northern Limit Line, the de facto sea border.
The drone can carry four GBU-44/B Viper Strike precision-guided munitions, as well as four Hellfire anti-tank missiles that can allegedly hit a tank about 8 km away. The Viper Strike is said to be accurate within just a meter because it is GPS- and laser-guided. It weighs only 20 kg.
It can also attack helicopters with Stinger air-to-air missiles.
It was deployed for warfare-ready for the first time in 2009 and used in Afghanistan. It costs more than W20 billion (US$1=W1,206).
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