South Korea is engineering stealth drones to tackle North Korea’s anti-aircraft defenses

This is just one of many military advancements the nation has made against its arch-rival.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Representational image of an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) - 3d rendered.
Representational image of an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) - 3d rendered.


Back in July, South Korea undertook a 33-minute flight of its homegrown KF-21 fighter jet for the first time flaunting its military might and perhaps sending a message to North Korea.

Stealth unmanned military drones

Now, reports have surfaced that the nation is seeking to develop "stealth" unmanned military drones that could be used to neutralize North Korea's anti-aircraft defense system, according to a report by Business Insider published on Friday.

The new deal did not go to Korea Aerospace Industries, the firm behind the now famous KF-21, but instead was awarded to Korean Air earlier this month. The choice was made by the Korean Agency for Defense Development (ADD).

"ADD began developing the UAV squadron in November last year and has completed the basic design. The agency plans to work on the detailed design with Korean Air," Korean Air told Business Insider.

The company will now be responsible for engineering a "manned-unmanned teaming system.” This advanced system will be backed by three to four stealth UAVs during its participation in missions such as air-to-ground attacks, surveillance and combat.

"The squadron of UAVs will not only support and escort a manned aircraft but will also be able to perform its own missions including surveillance, electronic interference tactics, and precise strikes," Korean Air added.

South Korea is engineering stealth drones to tackle North Korea’s anti-aircraft defenses
An image of South Korea's Seoul.

South Korea has been working on UAVs for over ten years, so this is not a completely new development. However, drones are not its only line of defense against North Korea.

Previous investments in military developments

In July of 2021, the nation announced it was pursuing the development of its own Iron Dome after witnessing the success of the defensive missile system in the Israel-Hamas conflict earlier this year. The country said at the time that it was willing to spend $2.6 billion on this technology in order to protect its capital city of Seoul and other key areas that sit a few miles away from its border with North Korea.

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Over the years, reports have surfaced that North Korea has deployed an arsenal of over 13,000 guns and rocket launchers along the South Korean border. Meanwhile, South Korea is believed to be in possession of Patriot and Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile defense systems while also deploying the Korea Tactical Surface to Surface Missiles (KTSSMs) in 2020.

Although not currently at war, the two nations did engage in battle in the early 1950s. A truce brought the conflict to a halt in 1953, but a peace treaty was never signed, and it is believed that both countries have continued to build offensive strategies.

The question that arises from these constant military advancements is how far are we from seeing actual conflict? Will the nations continue to just flaunt their military capabilities or will they one day decide to engage in lasting peace?

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