The KUS-FS UAV to be deployed for RoKA Ground Operations Command

The South Korean Minstry of National Defense (MND) is planning to procure a new reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA) Ground Operations Command (GOC), MND officials said in early March.

According to the MND, between two and three complete systems comprising a total of about 10 Mid-Altitude UAVs (MUAVs) and associated ground support equipment will be introduced to boost the RoKA’s long-range airborne surveillance capabilities.

The MUAV is based the Korean Air Aerospace Division (KAL-ASD)’s KUS-FS medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAV design and is being developed for the RoK Air Force (RoKAF) at a cost of KRW488.4 billion (USD402.7 million) under the supervision of the MND’s Agency for Defense Development (ADD).

According to official specifications released by KAL-ASD, the baseline KUS-FS design has a length of 13 m and a wingspan of 25 m. The company declined to provide details of its performance but the air vehicle is understood to be powered by a 1,200hp turboprop engine that enables it to reach a service ceiling of 13,000 m (42,650 ft) and stay aloft for periods in excess of 24 hours.

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KAL-ASD is responsible for the MUAV programme’s platform development and production, while Hanwha Corporation is developing its electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) system. LIG Nex1 is developing a new synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and is also partnering with KAL-ASD on the air vehicle’s avionics systems.

According a KAL-ASD official, the MUAV was able to accurately identify a specific seat within the Seoul Sports Complex from a distance of about 130 km.

Defence minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said during the MND operation review at Gyeryong city on 21 January that the MUAV development has been completed and is ready for mass production following extensive operational test and evaluation (OT&E) with the RoKAF since 2019.

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