The South Korean military has planned to develop an unmanned search vehicle for operations inside the heavily armed demilitarized zone.
The development plan was approved during a government committee meeting presided over by Defense Minister Han Min-koo, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration announced.
"We will embark on the development project in 2017 with an investment of 780 billion won (US$674 million)." Si-Cheol added. Some 100 sets of such vehicles will be churned out from 2024, said Kim Si-cheol, spokesman for South Korean Defense Acquisition Procurement Agency.
Once deployed, the unmanned search vehicle will help to reduce the military's damage from a landmine blast of North Korea like the one happened in early August. The incident had injured two South Korean soldiers near the border.
"When the unmanned search vehicles are deployed, they will play a role of stably aiding highly dangerous search and reconnaissance operations by frontline military units," Si-cheol added.
The DMZ is a 4-kilometer-wide, thickly forested military buffer zone, which separates the two Koreas in the middle of the Korean Peninsula. It is a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
The authorities, however, have no plans to load firearms onto the vehicles for a combat mission and are separately planning to develop a robot for finding landmines, another agency official said on condition of anonymity.
The plan to produce an initial 15 sets of unmanned aerial vehicles was also approved.
Under the plan, the UAVs will be placed in Army units and division-class units of the Marine Corps in the frontline areas from next year, it added.
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