Boeing late last year conducted a flight demonstration of its Unmanned Little Bird rotorcraft in Nonsan, South Korea, and says the system offers "affordable unmanned aircraft technology that could be integrated on to Republic of Korea Army MD500 helicopters".
An autonomous flight of about 25min was performed at the army's aviation school in mid-December using a demonstrator aircraft, which had been transported to South Korea from the USA with the support of Korea Air.
By using technologies incorporated with the Unmanned Little Bird with some of its MD500s, South Korea could "expand the fleet's mission capabilities", Boeing says. "The demonstration showcased proven pilotless capabilities available for integration on to rotorcraft to support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, resupply and other missions," it adds.
The South Korean army has an active fleet of more than 250 MD500s, as recorded by Flightlgobal's Ascend Online Fleets database.
Seoul has long had an interest in acquiring unmanned aircraft systems, and last month requested the possible purchase of four Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 air vehicles and associated equipment from the USA worth a potential $1.2 billion.