On Wednesday, January 17th, the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Korea announced that after completion of development phase and flight tests, new small unmanned aerial vehicles with low observable technology (stealth) were introduced into service in the Republic of Korea Armed Forces and deployed in Gangwon Province.
On December 26th, 2022, five North Korean drones violated South Korean airspace, and the response of the ROK Armed Forces was insufficient. Therefore, one of the main priorities of the South Korean Ministry of Defense in 2023 was the creating of the Drone Operations Command and the development of unmanned aerial vehicles to respond to threats from North Korea.
In particular, because South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol ordered the development of unmanned aerial vehicles with low observable technology in early 2023, and the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) indicated them as a key task for research and development work and was able to accelerate their development.
ADD has been independently researching low observable technology since 1999, and therefore relatively quickly began developing in 2023 small UAVs with a wingspan of less than 3 m, and the Korean Air Aerospace Division (KAL-ASD) research institute was selected as the contractor. The Institute is currently developing an unmanned combat loyal wingman, Kaori-X, for cooperation with the new generation KAI KF-21 Boramae multi-role aircraft, the program of which was revealed on December 23rd, 2021.
The small stealth unmanned aerial vehicle was publicly unveiled for the first time during the South Korean Armed Forces Day military parade on September 26th, 2023, and the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced that development had been completed following a successful test flight in November.
According to the Ministry of Defense, the Armed Forces will use small stealth unmanned aerial vehicles and continue to strengthen its operational capabilities in this class of systems by promoting the development and mass production of new aircraft, both as loitering munitions and for operations in the so-called swarms.