SEOUL, April 3 (Yonhap) -- The Air Force is pushing to deploy its first advanced unmanned aircraft Global Hawk within this year, sources said Friday.
South Korea brought in the RQ-4 Block 30 Global Hawk Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) in December and has been working to put it in operation. A reconnaissance squadron was established in charge of the asset that month.
"Related work for its operational deployment has been going on without a hitch," a military source said, adding that the exact time frame is subject to change.
"Global Hawk would begin carrying out missions before the end of this year, though the exact timeframe is subject to change," a military source said.
Another source said related work for its operational deployment has been going on without a hitch. He refused to confirm details, citing security concerns.
Under a 2011 deal with the United States, South Korea purchased four units. The remaining three had been expected to arrive here in the first half of this year, but the schedule is not fixed, according to officials.
As one of the most advanced intelligence-gathering platforms in the world, the vehicle, manufactured by U.S. defense firm Northrop Grumman, is capable of performing reconnaissance missions for around 40 hours at a time at an altitude of roughly 20 kilometers.
Equipped with a state-of-the-art "multi-platform radar technology insertion program" ground surveillance radar sensor, the Global Hawk can perform tasks to a range of up to 3,000 km and distinguish objects on the ground as small as 30 centimeters across.
The aircraft is expected to enhance Seoul's reconnaissance capabilities in the face of persistent threats by North Korea, as well as growing security challenges from neighboring countries, according to officials and experts.
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