South Korea’s plan to acquire four Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Block 30 Global Hawks, first revealed in March, has moved a step closer.

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency is likely two notify Congress in the coming weeks about the possible sale of the aircraft and one ground system.

US government officials familiar with the matter said the deal was worth around $850 million.

If it proceeds, two aircraft will be delivered in 2015 and two more in 2016.

"We’ve looked very carefully at the offsets that would be involved with Global Hawk, and we’ve set extreme limits," one of the officials said.

They added that the USA decided to remove the Global Hawk from the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) agreement in the case of South Korea last year, on the basis that the aircraft is not a weapon but rather an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform.

"We’re in the process of preparing a congressional notification, which we plan to submit in the next few weeks," an official said.

 Global Hawk Block 30 - Northrop Grumman
© Northrop Grumman

The deal would represent the first Asia Pacific sale of the platform and would be a coup for MTCR critics. They contend the MTCR is an antiquated agreement that hinders the ability of US companies to sell advanced unmanned systems to overseas allies.

A US official said the Republic of Korea Air Force would mainly use Global Hawk to monitor North Korean activities beyond the de-militarised zone.

Source: Flight International