Drones over the Blue HouseThe government has reached a tentative conclusion that the two unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, that fell in Paju, Gyeonggi, and Baengnyeong Island on March 24 and 31 were made in North Korea. The reasons are many.
First, the drone in Paju had hangul written on its battery and it was written in North Korean style. The vehicle was known to be returning to the North after doing a tour of downtown Seoul, including the Blue House area. The second drone that crashed on the island in the Yellow Sea was found to have flown to the South from North Korea as seen in a trajectory caught on radar.
North Korean drones were detected during a firing drill around the Northern Limit Line in August 2010. If the two recently discovered drones turn out to have been sent from North Korea, our government must present clear evidence. No one wants the kind of controversy over the evidence from the Cheonan sinking to be repeated.
First of all, the Paju drone’s flight path is shocking, as it turns out that the drone took pictures of the presidential residence in the Blue House at an altitude of 300 meters (984 feet) 20 minutes after flying above the Tongil-ro road near the border. Objects that were 1 meter in diameter in the photo could be identified. The drone crashed to the ground while flying back to North Korea. If it was made by the North, that’s a serious provocation. Our government or the military was not aware of the flight of the drone even when it was on a potentially dangerous mission. Our air defense systems couldn’t work because the drone flew at such a low altitude.
The drone’s technology was not so impressive, but it could be used for terror if improved - either for a kamikaze attack or an attack with biological or chemical weapons. Drone technology is universalized and the North wants to reinforce its aerial reconnaissance capabilities. The North is known to have possessed three types of drones, including the Panghyon 1 and 2, which were remodeled D-4s from China. Those two drones can be loaded with 20 to 25 kilograms (44 to 55 pounds) of explosives. North Korea showed various types of drones in a military parade last year.
Our military must establish a tighter air defense system and introduce radar that can detect low-altitude drones. It must be able to distinguish our civilian drones from the North’s. Another war front has emerged.
JoongAng Ilbo, April 3, Page 30