Go to contents

U.S. Nixes Global Hawk Sale to Korea

Posted July. 13, 2006 03:00,   


According to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, military authorities requested the U.S. to sell it four Global Hawks in 2008 at last year’s SCC in Hawaii in order to secure independent surveillance ability on North Korea. Korea requested this several times. However, last June, the U.S. put out a “not for sale” policy and have rejected Korea’s requests.

The U.S. is thought to have rejected the request for fear that the core technology might be leaked. Some are known to be worried that confidential information collected on North Korea using the Global Hawk might be leaked to the North.

The Global Hawk is an unmanned surveillance and intelligence aircraft, with an operation range of 3,000km, which flies a maximum of 36 hours in a high altitude distance of 20km above earth, and with its high-tech radar and optical camera, it can identify 30cm objects on the ground. It is estimated to have the scouting capacity of an intelligence satellite.

In particular, its ability to track ballistic missiles the moment they are launched with its infrared sensors and report the information to a ground-level base allows it to be utilized as the core equipment of a missile defense (MD) system.

The U.S.’ refusal to sell the Global Hawk has set back the military’s plan to introduce a high altitude UAV system until after 2010, and if the U.S. continually refuses, the whole system could fall apart.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration said, “While continuously requesting the U.S to sell us the Global Hawk, we are also developing a domestic mid-altitude UAV system.” However, the mid-altitude UAV system development will be possibly completed around 2015. On the other hand, Japan received consent to buy the Global Hawk last June, and it has already secured budgets and commenced preparations to introduce the Global Hawk into its system.

Japanese Defense Minister Fukushiro Nukaga, who has recently made a sensation with his “pre-emptive strike theory,” revealed in January, “The UAV system will be introduced to counter against remote distance attacks and collect information on ballistic missile launches. Either the Global Hawk or the Predator will be used.”

It is predicted that with the North Korean missile situation, the U.S and Japanese missile defense system cooperation will be accelerated, and by next year, Japan will have several Global Hawks to collect graphic data on all of North Korea. A military expert who requested anonymity said, “The Global Hawk situation clearly shows that the U.S. no longer sees Korea as a close ally and that the core of the U.S.-Northeast Asia alliance has turned to Japan.”

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com