The Air Force set up a reconnaissance squadron in charge of operating the advanced unmanned aircraft of Global Hawk, the defense ministry said Friday.
The new military unit was established in December as South Korea brought in its first RQ-4 Block 30 Global Hawk Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) that month.
Under a 2011 deal with the United States, South Korea purchased four units, with the remaining three to arrive here in the first half of this year, according to officials.
As one of the most advanced intelligence-gathering platforms in the world, the vehicle, manufactured by U.S. defense firm Northrop Grumman, is capable of performing reconnaissance missions for around 40 hours at a time at an altitude of roughly 20 kilometers.
Equipped with a state-of-the-art "multi-platform radar technology insertion program" ground surveillance radar sensor, the Global Hawk can perform tasks to a range of up to 3,000 km and distinguish objects on the ground as small as 30 centimeters across.
The officials said that the aircraft is expected to enhance Seoul's reconnaissance capabilities in the face of persistent threats by North Korea, as well as growing security challenges from neighboring countries.
As part of efforts to improve its capabilities regarding drones, the defense ministry held a meeting Friday, involving some 60 officials from related entities, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff and all branches of service.
"Currently, South Korea operates seven types of unmanned aerial vehicles, and about 800 units of drones have been in use for education, training and combat experiments," the ministry said in a release.
Presiding over the meeting, Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo called for the active push for drones-related measures to build a mighty defense power by maximizing advanced technologies, according to the ministry. (Yonhap)