The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) of the Republic of Korea has selected the Heron Medium Altitude, Long Endurance (MALE) Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for its corps-level UAS upgrade project. At the same time, in the USA, Northrop Grumman moved forward with the manufacturing of four Global Hawk High Altitude, Long Endurance (HALE) drones for Seoul, under a foreign military sale contract awarded by the US Air Force.
Seoul plans to spend 40 billion won (US$36.5 million) buying three Heron-I drones from Israel by the end of 2015. The drones will support the Korean Army corps deployed along the northwestern frontline, covering the demilitarized zone along the 38th parallel and the northwestern border islands at the yellow sea, as well as inland, near the Seoul metropolitan area. The Global Hawk drones are expected to replace the US Air Force drones currently conducting providing strategic, high altitude recce missions over the Korean peninsula.
Northrop Grumman was awarded the $657 million contract yesterday, to build and deliver four RQ-4B Block 30 Global Hawk HALE unmanned aircraft for the Republic of Korea. Seoul expects to pay around 900 billion won ($820 million) for the four drones. The contract also covers four Enhanced Integrated Sensor Suites for the aircraft, two spare engines, and the applicable Ground Control Environment elements. Deliveries will begin in 2017 and end in 2019. This foreign military sales (FMS) contract is managed by the US Air Force on behalf of the Republic of Korea.
The IAI Heron-1 is a medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle with a range of 250 kilometers. It is capable of flying for more than 24 hours, or six times longer than the drones the locally produced KUS-7 and KUS-9 stand-in UAVs supplied to the Korean military since 2007.