Seoul plans to launch a medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned air vehicle development programme next year to equip the South Korean air force.

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) says its UAV team began working earlier this year with the Agency for Defence Development (ADD) on a preliminary design for the proposed MALE system, and that a 10-year development effort will start in 2006. The company says the new air vehicle will fly in 2007 or 2008 and carry a 500kg (1,100lb) payload, including electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) and synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) sensors, plus line-of sight and satellite communications equipment. The ADD and KAI plan to select a domestic company to supply the EO/IR sensor and a foreign company to deliver the SAR payload.

KAI has been looking for a new project to replace its Night Intruder tactical UAV programme, which concluded at the end of last year after the production of five units for the South Korean army and navy, which have since declined to fund a system upgrade.

The Night Intruder was manufactured at KAI’s Changwon factory, but earlier this year the manufacturer’s UAV team – which has shrunk from around 70 to 20 engineers – moved to the company’s main Sacheon plant.


Source: Flight International