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S. Korea to acquire data analyzing system for Global Hawk next month: procurement agency

South Korea plans to bring in the intelligence analysis system for the advanced unmanned aircraft Global Hawk from the United States next month in a move expected to enhance the country's capabilities to monitor threats from North Korea, the arms procurement agency said Tuesday.

Under a 2011 deal worth 965.9 billion won ($847.2 million), South Korea bought four RQ-4 Block 30 Global Hawk Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA). The first unit arrived here in December last year, and the last unit in September this year, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

The vehicle's ground system for data tasking, collection, processing, exploitation and dissemination (TCPED) "is scheduled to be acquired by November 2020 following the systems integration and necessary tests," DAPA said in a report submitted to the National Assembly for its parliamentary audit.

The planned delivery is behind the schedule "due to prolonged negotiations between the US government and its manufacturer, along with the COVID-19 situation," the agency added.

As one of the most advanced intelligence-gathering platforms in the world, the Global Hawk, manufactured by US 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.

It is expected to be put into operational deployment within this year following the introduction of the system, which will boost the country's surveillance capabilities and allow it to secure more actionable intelligence about North Korea and other neighboring countries.

According to DAPA, the vehicle's Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system will be upgraded to the advanced Mode 5 in 2022. Mode 5 is an enhancement to Mode 4 IFF, which has been in use since the mid-1950s for military identification. The US authorities require all Mode 4 configurations to Mode 5 by the first half of 2021. (Yonhap)