South Korea to Transfer UAV, Missile Technologies to UAE

By Jung Sung-ki

Korea promised to transfer technology for its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), following its successful bid to build four nuclear reactors in the Middle East nation, a government source said Thursday. Defense Minister Kim Tae-young made the commitment during his visit to the UAE in November to discuss bilateral defense issues as well as to support the landmark $20 billion deal, the source told The Korea Times.

Kim also offered to provide key arms technologies related to the homegrown Hyunmoo ballistic and cruise missiles to the UAE as part of efforts to expand defense cooperation between the two countries, he said on condition of anonymity.Technology on an electromagnetic pulse bomb (EMP) is among the key items for cooperation promised by Korea, said the source.

The state-funded Agency for Defense Development (ADD) has been pushing to develop the bomb capable of neutralizing an enemy's command-and-control, communications and defense radar systems.EMPs can severely disrupt electronic equipment, which is susceptible to damage by transient power surges. An EMP attack is generated by a very short, intense energy pulse or high-altitude nuclear blast.

The agency plans to complete the development by 2014. "The UAE asked Korea to provide such key arms technologies as part of the package deal for the reactor contract," the source said. "Korea's positive response to the request played an important role in sealing the deal."

Speculation has been growing after the agreement that there could have been some behind-the-scene promises to satisfy the UAE needs. At that time, Seoul's defense ministry declined to elaborate, only saying the two sides exchanged views on ways to expand bilateral defense cooperation programs. As for the UAV, Korea will offer the technology on the Night Intruder-300, also known as RQ-101, built by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), according to the source.

KAI built the RQ-101 corps-level battlefield-reconnaissance UAV between 2001 and 2004. The Korean Army bought five sets of RQ-101s, with each set including six aircraft, a launcher and a ground-control station. KAI is also discussing the sale of the RQ-101 to Libya.The RQ-101 has a service ceiling of 4.5 kilometers and a cruise speed of 120 to 150 kilometers per hour. The 215-kilogram aircraft has a service radius of 200 kilometers and can operate for up to six hours in the air.

The UAV is capable of multipurpose operations to perform missions like wide area surveillance, reconnaissance, target acquisition, bombing guidance, battlefield supervision and checking target break-down. It is also possible to transfer real-time images, especially in unfavorable environments during day and night.

Some observers say, however, potential exports of the RQ-101 to either the UAE or Libya could cause a political or diplomatic row between South Korea and Israel given the ground-control station for the UAV was developed with technical assistance from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

IAI offered the technology when it sold its Searcher II UAVs to South Korea.Referred missile technologies are related to those for the 300-kilometer-range Hyunmoo-II ballistic missile and the 1,000-kilometer-range Hyunmoo-III surface-to-surface cruise missile developed by the ADD and LIG Nex1.

The Hyunmoo-III missiles have been operational with the Army since last year. The Hyunmoo-III can hit targets with a margin of error of plus or minus five meters aided by a Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) system.

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