Israel's Elbit joins hands with KAI to develop new unmanned aerial vehicle

By Lim Chang-won Posted : March 15, 2021, 09:06 Updated : March 15, 2021, 17:29

This picture captured from KAI's website shows an RQ-101 reconnaissance UAV. [Courtesy of Korea Aerospace Industries]

SEOUL -- Elbit Systems, an Israeli defense electronics company, joined hands with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), the sole aircraft maker in South Korea, to push for the development of new unmanned aerial vehicles and joint marketing in South Korea and abroad.

Since it produced a reconnaissance UAV model in 2002, KAI has tried to develop various types of UAVs. Israeli firms have been key partners in South Korean defense programs. In early March, KAI agreed with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to use its suicide drone technology for the development of a manned and unmanned teaming system using light attack helicopters.

South Korea hopes to develop UAVs like Gray Eagle, which are capable of staging tactical and strategic missions. However, core parts come from foreign countries, which are reluctant to transfer technologies. Gray Eagle features an automatic takeoff and landing system that allows the aircraft to be launched and recovered without any operator interaction. It could reach speeds of up to 280 kilometers (168 miles) per hour during its 30 hour operation time.

In January 2020, South Korea unveiled a project to develop turbofan engines for high-performance UAVs by 2025. The turbofan engine is designed to increase thrust by adding another turbine to the rear of the turbojet engine's turbine. Benefits include long-distance flights, saving fuel and reducing emissions noise. Exports and imports of high-performance UAVs are strictly controlled under the Missile Technology Control Regime which limits the proliferation of missiles and missile technology.
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