Monday, June 14, 2010
South Korea seeks spy platform by 2014
SEOUL - South Korea aims to have two new, advanced signals-intelligence aircraft flying near North Korea by 2014, procurement and industry sources say.
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) will release a request for proposals next month to local and foreign manufacturers, and intends to pick final bidders by year's end.
LIG Nex1 and Samsung Thales, the two rival precision electronics companies in South Korea, will bid to supply communication, electronic and foreign instrumentation signals intelligence systems.
U.S. company Gulfstream Aerospace and Canada's Bombardier will compete to make the airframes.
Korea Aerospace Industries, South Korea's only aircraft maker, and the national flag-carrier Korean Air will bid to perform the systems integration.
"The project is designed to further improve the nation's ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] capability against North Korea," one source said. "The new airplanes will have more advanced signal and communications intelligence equipment than those for existing Baekdu reconnaissance aircraft."
The Republic of Korea Air Force currently flies four Raytheon Hawker 800XP aircraft, code-named Baekdu. The service also operates four Geumgangs, 800XPs that collect imagery with synthetic aperture and moving target indicator radars.
Seoul is beefing up various military capabilities as it prepares to assume wartime operational control from the United States in 2012. It has moved more quickly since March, when a South Korean Navy corvette, the Cheonan, was sunk off the disputed sea border with the North, allegedly by a North Korean midget submarine.
The plans for a new aircraft emerged during a June 8-10 demonstration by eight South Korean companies and the state-funded Agency for Defense Development (ADD) of ISR-related systems and concept models, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Intelligence Chiefs Conference here. Among the exhibits:
n ADD displayed a model of the Tactical EO/IR Reconnaissance System, which will be loaded onto KF-16 fighter jets, turning them into RF-16s that will replace RF-4/5 aircraft in coming years.
The ground station and mission control system would allow various functions for imagery interpretation, a three-dimensional display and exploitation, and interface with the Air Force's C4I system.
n LIG Nex1 promoted its Harbor Underwater Surveillance System (HUSS). Developed with ADD, the HUSS includes an underwater moored passive line array to target ships, submarines and semi-submerged vehicles outside the harbor; magnetic/acoustic sensors to spot ships, semi-submersibles and swim-mer delivery vehicles in the approaches, and active sonar to find swimmer delivery vehicles and combat swimmers in the harbor itself.
The South Korean Navy plans to deploy five HUSSes at ports on the Yellow Sea, on the western coast.
n Hanwha showed its Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV). Under development with the ADD, the 26-kilogram reconnaissance vehicle would enter the danger zone of urban terrain, tunnels, sewers and caves, and conduct ISR missions in day or night, said Hwang Hee-chul, general manager and principal research engineer at Hanwha.
The SUGV carries a K-7 9mm submachine gun and travels at up to 9 kilometers per hour.
n Hanwha also displayed the CROW micro UAV. Meant for company- and platoon-level infantry units, the 500-gram aircraft has a wingspan of just 70 centimeters and a length of 50 centimeters. It has a an operational altitude of 100 to 500 meters and a top speed of 90 kilometers per hour.
The aircraft is launched by hand and lands by parachute.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 7:53 AM