South Korea has introduced 24 multipurpose radars from Britain and has been conducting combat experiments as part of efforts to step up its air defense, a military source said Thursday.
In the wake of recent border incursions by suspected North Korean spy drones that have emerged as a new security challenge, the Seoul government has been mulling introducing ground surveillance radars for deployment in frontline areas and northwestern border islands.
“We bought a total of 24 surveillance radars made by British company Plextek Group over the past several years, and the capital defense command and some frontline corps have been testing them,” the source said, requesting anonymity.
“They were found to be satisfactory in several tests,” he added.
In its initial test with two units in 2011, the military found the radar appropriate for battle, which led it to bring in five more in 2012 and 17 last year, the source said, adding the authorities are mulling buying more of them.
“In a test earlier this month, the radar turned out to be capable of detecting a small unmanned aerial vehicle some 10 kilometers away and a multicopter located 1.5 km away,” the source said.
Noting that the radar system is also capable of spotting ground troops 4 km away and vehicles located as far away as 32 km, the source said the military has asked the British manufacturer to improve its capabilities so that it can detect UAVs less than 2 meters long, like those from North Korea.
Three suspected North Korean UAVs, painted sky blue, were found near the tensely guarded border, raising concerns over South Korea’s air defense capacity.
One was found in late March in Paju, just south of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, and the other was retrieved from the frontline island of Baengnyeong during the North’s live-fire drills near the western maritime border last week.
Most recently on Sunday, the military revealed a third drone similar to the other two drones, which a local resident found on a mountain on the east coast in early October. (Yonhap)