Dec 27, 2012
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration formally proposed a controversial sale of advanced spy drones to help South Korea bear more of its defense from any attack by the heavily armed North.
Seoul has requested a possible $1.2 billion sale of four Northrop Grumman RQ-4 “Global Hawk” remotely piloted aircraft with enhanced surveillance capabilities, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement dated Monday and distributed Tuesday.
South Korea needs such systems to assume top responsibility for intelligence-gathering from the U.S.-led Combined Forces Command as scheduled in 2015, the security agency said in releasing a notice to U.S. lawmakers.
“The proposed sale of the RQ-4 will maintain adequate intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities and will ensure the alliance is able to monitor and deter regional threats in 2015 and beyond,” the notice said.
The United States has agreed with Seoul to turn over the wartime command of Korean troops later this decade. Current arrangements grew from the U.S. role in the 1950-1953 Korean War that repelled a North Korean takeover of the South.
Seoul has shown interest in the high-altitude, long-endurance Global Hawk platform for at least four years. The system, akin to Lockheed Martin’s U-2 spy plane, may be optimized to scan large areas for stationary and moving targets by day or night and despite cloud cover.
It transmits imagery and other data from 60,000 feet at near real-time speed, using electro-optical, infrared and radar-imaging sensors built by Raytheon…