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South Korea Unveils Mega Counter-Drone R&D Program To Fight Growing Menace Of Illegal UAVs

South Korea has pledged about US$37.6 million to develop counter-drone systems to fight the growing menace of illegal unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), according to reports.

South Korea’s Ministry of Science and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has stated that 23 research institutes (such as the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute) and companies (such as the aerospace and defense firm LIG Nex1 Co.) will come together to develop a counter-UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) that spots and neutralizes illegal unmanned aircraft, The Korea Times reported.

The announcement comes in wake of rising fear that North Korea could deploy its drones near South Korean infrastructure and military bases. Authorities discovered North Korean drones which had crashed in border areas in 2014. Additionally, drone technology has taken great strides due to the advancement in artificial intelligence and swarm robotics in recent years.

Current technology is mostly land-based. This includes sensors, command-and control-system, and effectors such as missiles. The South Korean consortium hopes to produce ‘patrol drones’ which will carry out surveillance in the air itself. The patrol drones will be more agile and cover the land system’s blind spots.

In November last year, South Korean defense firm Hanwha Corporation had displayed its new family of laser weapons systems that can take down hostile UAVs, at an arms exhibition in Seoul.

A model of an anti-drone laser weapon unveiled by Hanwha Corporation. (via Twitter)

The U.S. Army uses Raytheon’s Coyote drone as part of its counter-UAS and is planning on developing a counter-drone laser system. Equipped with an advanced seeker and warhead, the Coyote-enabled system is adaptable for a variety of missions including surveillance, electronic warfare, and strike. The drone can be flown individually or in a swarm.

The Russian Rosoboronexport’s Repellent-Patrol electronic warfare system was displayed at IDEX 2021 this February. The system can intercept and jam the electronic signals of rogue drones within the range of 20 kilometers.

China is a bit far behind with its mostly land-based radars and detachable devices to detect drones. The Military and Aerospace Electronics reports that US anti-drone systems are considered more advanced than those of China’s.

Monitoring is an addition to the enlargement of governmental regulation of drone activity. India legalized non-governmental drone activity in December 2018 but demanded the registration of UAVs. A Unique Identification Number (UIN) will be generated after registration and users have to follow government-mandated guidelines.

The Indian government also stated its commitment to procuring technologies to restrict or neutralize unregistered rogue drones as part of the Ministry of Defence’s ’Technology Perspective and Capability Roadmap – 2018′.

The US goes a step further and has made broadcasting the drone’s location strictly necessary starting from 2023. In such a regulated environment, it will be easier to spot illegal drone activity.

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