Monday, April 7, 2014

S. Korean military vows to step up anti-drone measures

I hope people will think this through.  These small UAS/RPVs (or drones) are difficult to detect by anyone.  I remember the difficulties we had for year detecting the AN-2 Colts (canvas covered bi-plane that is a main nKPA SOF infiltration platform).

I think the most important thing the north might have done was to fly over the ROK and observe the action of the ROK military in response to the recent provocations.  But based on the photos that have been released it looks like all they are taking are rudimentary low quality still photos.  I do not think they were capable of streaming real time video.

The alleged photos of the Blue House were also of poor quality.  I compared them with Google Earth and Google Earth had much better resolution.  I wonder if the nKPA UAS/RPV operators are substituting Google Earth images for their images when they show them to Kim Jong-un.  I wonder if these overflights are for internal north Korean propaganda or perhaps the result of Kim Jong-un saying he wanted the "advanced capability" like modern nations have.  (Maybe they will halt their long range missile and nuclear weapons programs and shift to UAS/RPVs so they can move from these airplane toy systems to something more sophisticated).

On the other hand this could very well be psychological operations directed against the ROK.  It is easy to see the effects they might want to achieve - political problems for the President, undermining of confidence in the ROK military capabilities, a rapid shift of resources to develop the capabilities try to detect and defend against these systems.  

I think we should spend some time trying to understand the north Korean strategy (and in particular the psychological operations strategy) before we go overboard chasing these toy systems around.  And yes I know people fear that these will be loaded with explosives to attack target but they could probably carry perhaps a kilo of C4 and while that would do some damage it would be relatively minor and certainly have little military effect (so we again have to consider the psychological operations strategy of the north).

But the best immediate reaction to this is to prevent overreaction (which I know is difficult to prevent among ROK politicians and of course any politicians for that matter).

(2nd LD) S. Korean military vows to step up anti-drone measures


2014/04/07 17:30
By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, April 7 (Yonhap) - South Korea's defense minister ordered tighter vigilance against new threats of small unmanned aerial vehicles on Monday as a recent discovery of suspected North Korean drones has sparked concern over the nation's air defense system.
Kim Kwan-jin issued the order at a meeting of top military commanders convened to discuss anti-drone measures after South Korea collected three drones in less than a month near the western and eastern front and on a border island.
One was found in late March in Paju, just south of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, and the other was retrieved from the front-line island of Baengnyeong during the North's live-fire drills near the western maritime border last week.
Most recently, the military on Sunday revealed a third drone similar to the other two drones, which a local resident found in a mountain on the east coast in early October.
"If (North Korea) developed the small unmanned aerial aircraft for reconnaissance purposes to enhance its relatively weak surveillance capability, it is expected to develop drones for secret infiltration and terrorism purposes in the future," Kim said during the video conference held at the Joint Chiefs of Staff headquarters in Seoul.
South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin convenes a meeting of top commanders to discuss anti-drone measures at the Joint Chiefs of Staff headquarters on April 7, 2014. (Yonhap)

South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin convenes a meeting of top commanders to discuss anti-drone measures at the Joint Chiefs of Staff headquarters on April 7, 2014. (Yonhap)

"We should strengthen our military readiness to be able to monitor, detect, identify and strike (the drones) with existing military assets along the border."

   The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Choi Yun-hee, talked with the commander of U.S. Forces Korea, Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, via the video conference system to discuss ways to cooperate in dealing with North Korean drones, as well as threats posed by its missile and nuclear weapons, his office said. Scaparrotti is now in the U.S. to attend a congressional panel meeting on security situations on the Korean Peninsula.
Rudimentary drones have existed for almost as long as aircraft themselves for reconnaissance and surveillance missions have, but the drone incursions have raised concerns over more sophisticated, armed UAVs that can launch attacks on military assets and major facilities.
Seoul officials have discussed anti-UAV measures in the past years, but so far, defenses against drones mostly consist of signal jamming, radar detection and conventional counterattack used against other types of aircraft.
In light of the drone incursions, Seoul's defense ministry said it is considering purchasing advanced low-altitude surveillance radars and anti-aircraft guns to better guard against infiltration by small aircraft.
With an in-depth analysis current underway, the three sky blue drones equipped with cameras, which crashed either due to engine failure or lack of fuels, showed Pyongyang's UAV technology to be at a rudimentary level.
In light of the drone discovery made by reports from local residents, military units across the country began searching for other drones that may have crashed in South Korea.
During the meeting, the defense chief also pledged to cooperate with related government agencies and civilians to better spot the small aircraft, which are hard to detect with the existing radars.
As part of the measures, the military is considering giving a monetary reward to any informant who reports the existence of a drone, according to officials.
The latest details from the investigation showed that the drones found in Paju and Samcheok may have extended their flight range by having had their glow engines modified to run on a more effective gasoline fuel, said a military official with knowledge of the ongoing investigation. The glow engine is a small internal combustion engine typically used in model aircraft.
While the triangle-shaped drones with an average speed of 100-120 km per hour are believed to have flown as far as 200 km, the Samcheok drone was discovered 130 km south of the military demarcation line. It is a strong indication that the engine may have used more cost effective gasoline fuel as it is designed to fly a round trip covering a distance of over 260 km, the official said.
"The joint investigation team has assembled the drones to look into engines to figure out whether they were modified to gasoline engines to extend their flight range," the official said. "An in-depth analysis of the engine structure would provide (knowledge about the North's) technology to make drones that can fly according to prearranged coordinates unaffected by wind."

   If the North successfully modified the glow engine to run on gasoline mix, it could conduct spy missions farther south, he added.
Experts say North Korea is believed to have deployed about 100 attack drones it unveiled last March during military drills, which was lauded by leader Kim Jong-un.
The range of the drones is estimated at up to 800 kilometers, sufficient to strike major South Korean and U.S. military targets in South Korea.
The North on Saturday derided the discovery of the drones that flew undetected over key areas in Seoul that tarnished the image of the South Korean forces, but made no mention of its involvement.
If the ongoing probe confirms that the drones were sent by the North, the spokesman for Seoul's defense ministry said it would constitute a violation of the Armistice Agreement of the 1950-53 Korean War and international regulations, and vowed to take "relevant actions" without elaborating on the details of potential measures.
The JCS said Sunday it will take necessary "military and legal actions" over the North's violation of its airspace if the drones are found to have come from the country.

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