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U.S. To Permanently Station Attack Drones In South Korea

By March 15, 2017 at 7:54 am
U.S. to permanently station attack drones in S. Korea (Photo : United States Forces Korea via Getty Images)

The U.S. military has announced that it will permanently station attack drones in South Korea. This came just a week after North Korea sent four ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea.

"The stationing of this company, which will be assigned to the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division, directly supports the US Army's strategic plan to add one Gray Eagle company to each division in the Army," the United States Force Korea (USFK) said in a statement. "The UAS adds significant intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability to US Forces Korea and our ROK (Republic of Korea) partners."

The MQ-1C Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) provides combatant commanders with a real-time responsive capability to conduct long-dwell, persistent stare, wide-area reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, communications relay and attack missions. It is powered by a heavy-fuel engine.

These can also integrate with Apache helicopters, which help in avoiding bad weather on the Korean Peninsula. Earlier this year, the U.S. military began sending 24 AH-64D Apaches into the country.

"The US and its regional partners see the importance of demonstrating that they also have the upper hand in conventional deterrence and readiness, and not just as a reaction to a full DPRK (Democratic Republic of Korea) attack," Corey Wallace of the Graduate School of East Asian Studies at Freie Universität Berlin said.

Experts have predicted that this move is most likely a show of force in reaction to increased provocations from North Korea. The reclusive state has been conducting a series of test missile launches in the recent months, leading to concerns that it is refining its missile technology.

South Korea has already begun its deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system. Two missile launchers and other equipment arrived in the country last week.

The equipment will be placed at an undisclosed location until a golf course in Seongju County, North Gyeongsang Province, is ready to host the battery system. Delivery of other equipment and operational personnel will soon follow to complete the alliance decision on the deployment.

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