Crashed drones cheap to make

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Crashed drones cheap to make

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A Canon EOS-550D camera attached to a drone found in Paju, Gyeonggi. Military authorities yesterday disclosed snapshots of the components of the two drones allegedly sent by the North that crashed in Paju and Baengnyeong Island on March 24 and 31. Aviation experts said the cost of components to make a similar drone would only be 10 million won (9,454 U.S. Dollar ). [NEWS1]

It would cost just about 10 million won ($9,454) to make a drone similar to the ones North Korea allegedly sent to South Korea that crashed in Paju, Gyeonggi, and Baengnyeong Island on March 24 and 31, respectively, aviation experts say.

They added that most of the cost may have been spent on the fuselages, engines and each craft’s GPS system.

The primary material that made up the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that crashed in Paju was polycarbonate, with its 10-by-10 meter (32-by-32 feet) panel likely costing between 1.6 million and 2 million won.

Similarly, its twin cylinder glow engine, made in Japan, sells between 1.8 million won and 2 million won.

“[The drone’s] price and performance is placed somewhere between German drones and Chinese drones,” one aviation expert said.

Military authorities have not yet identified the actual cost of the GPS and communication devices in those drones, though prices tend to vary widely depending on performance.

“Low-performance products cost only hundreds of thousands of won, but the ones that users can control from dozens of kilometers away may cost millions of won,” said Jeong Wun-jo, the president of a company that sells UAV components.

A defense industry official added that communication equipment packages that include GPS and that can be controlled from dozens of miles away can go for about 5 million won to 6 million won.

The UAV found in Paju was also equipped with a Canon EOS-550D camera, which costs about 1.2 million won. The camera had more than 190 images shot around the Blue House.

“This camera is mostly used by novices, and it is easy to take photos in dark places because it has high sensitivity,” said Kim Yong-ho, a professional photographer.

The UAV found in Baengnyeong Island, however, turned out to be a little more expensive than its counterpart. The fuselage material was foam core, which is used to make bath tubs. The material is cheaper, costing 1 million won for a 10-by-10 meter panel. But its engine, made in Europe, likely cost about 3 million won and its Nikon D800 camera cost about 4 million won.

Despite the UAV’s simplicity, some are criticizing the Korean military’s defense department for compromising the country’s security by unmanned drones that are estimated to cost just 10 million won.

Although the Ministry of National Defense said last year it would strengthen the country’s defense in establishing the Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system and Kill Chain, an integrated surveillance and strike system with cutting-edge technology, it may not be able to escape accusations that it has not paid not enough attention to the country’s northwestern islands, the area often attacked by Pyongyang.

BY JEONG YONG-SOO and YOO SEONG-WOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]


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