An attack drone equipped with six 40-millimeter grenade launchers will be piloted by the military in the first half of next year, according to the state arms procurement agency on Tuesday.
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said in a June 3 press release that it signed a contract with two companies to purchase grenade-launching drones and small modular drones equipped with the latest technologies through a rapid pilot acquisition project system and to test-run the models in the first half of next year.
The contracts with ONC Tech, which will provide the grenade-launching drones to the Army, and Preneu, which will furnish the small modular drones to the Navy and Air Force, are worth 662 million won ($576,600) and 1.71 billion won, respectively.
“We expect that the grenade-launching drones and small modularized drones will employ various new technologies and contribute greatly to expanding the spectrum of military drone power and revitalizing the drone industry,” the press release said.
According to DAPA, the grenade-launching drone will be a remotely controlled attack drone capable of carrying up to six 40-millimeter grenade launchers and targeting targets up to 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) away.
The drone can fire one grenade every two seconds and is equipped with a recoil-absorption mechanism, allowing the drone to recover its position after firing and maintain a stable shooting posture.
Meanwhile, the small modular drone will be designed to weigh under 1.95 kilograms (4.3 pounds) to enable a single individual to easily transport it. With its miniaturized modular components, it will be capable of carrying out various surveillance and patrol operations.
DAPA said that the small modular drone will be mounted with optical and thermal imaging cameras, speakers, searchlights and distance-measuring lasers which can be added or removed as needed, enabling it to carry out a wide variety of functions, including warning, tracking and radio communication interference, which will aid in anti-terrorism and special operations.
The drones will be controlled by a domestically developed flight controller and a miniaturized communication component, which DAPA said it expects will lead to further development of domestic military drone technology.
The drone industry brings together various advanced technologies such as aviation, data analysis and communication, and sensors. Research conducted by the Land Ministry says that the size of the global drone market was approximately 23 trillion won in 2020 and is growing by 15 percent annually.
According to DAPA, major countries around the world such as the United States, China and Europe are working on various drone commercialization initiatives to dominate the global drone market, and the agency believes that the latest tender will also provide Korea with an opportunity to expand its domestic drone capabilities.
The agency said in the press release that it believes the drone test-pilot project will have a significant spillover effect in the domestic drone industry and promote technologies with a commercial application.
BY MICHAEL LEE [[email protected]]