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U.S. Prepares to Sell Spy Drones to South Korea

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Posted on Dec 26, 2012
Official U.S. Navy Imagery (CC BY 2.0)

An RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle conducts tests over Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland.

Seoul is seeking four “advanced” surveillance drones priced at a total of $1.2 billion to gather intelligence on North Korea’s activities after the U.S. turns over wartime command of Korean troops—a legacy of the 1950s Korean War—later this decade.

Notice of the developing deal came from the Pentagon to Congress two weeks after North Korea surprised the world by launching a satellite via a rocket, a move seen by many as advancing its ballistic missile program.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Reuters via The Washington Post:

“The proposed sale of the RQ-4 will maintain adequate intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities and will ensure the alliance is able to monitor and deter regional threats in 2015 and beyond,” [a Pentagon document released Tuesday] said.

… Seoul has shown interest in the high-altitude, long-endurance Global Hawk platform for at least four years. The system, akin to Lockheed Martin’s U-2 spy plane, may be optimized to scan large areas for stationary and moving targets by day or night and despite cloud cover.

It transmits imagery and other data from 60,000 feet at near real-time speed, using electro-optical, infrared and radar-imaging sensors built by Raytheon.

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