SEOUL, April 4 (Korea Bizwire) — As early as next year, South Korea’s Armed Forces may begin testing drones in artificial combat settings, a sign that a fourth industrial revolution-influenced form of warfare is creeping ever closer.
At the three-day “dronebot” expo being held at the Sejong Convention Center, the Army laid out its plans to integrate drones and bots into South Korea’s military operations going forward.
The first step will be to select the order in which types of drones (bomber, self-destructing, patrols and monitoring, etc.) will begin production this year. As these drones are judged to be technology usable by army units at the battalion level or lower, there is a strong possibility that testing will begin as soon as next year. The tests will occur at urban sites, coastal stretches and military bases.
The Army also unveiled more innovative examples of how drones will be deployed in future combat.
One idea describes a UAV referred to as a “mother drone” carrying numerous detachable smaller fighter drones. When the carrier drone nears the combat zone, the fighter drones will separate from the mother drone’s body and launch an assault on enemy fighters and strategic points.
Another idea is to launch drones held inside missiles or within the shells of self-propelled artillery. When either form of projectile is launched, the multiple drones within would be automatically released in mid-air out of reach of the enemy’s anti-aircraft weaponry. The ejected drones would then take out enemy strongholds or carry out patrols and reconnaissance missions.
By 2030, the Army expects to have established multiple dronebot combat units as well as a division at Army HQ that will deal primarily in drone weapons infrastructure, systems and training.
Fighter drones will be developed with both reconnaissance and combat capabilities and will be designed as fixed-wing aircraft, multicopters and machines that resemble living creatures.
Private aerospace firms also displayed their drones at the expo, with one of the standouts being Korean Air’s KUS-FC, a next-generation stealth UAV.