South Korean Air Force (SKAF) will receive its second Global Hawk high-altitude unmanned reconnaissance drone this week, US Ambassador to Seoul, Harry Harris said in a tweet today.
An image accompanying the Tweet showed a Global Hawk drone parked in a hangar with the national flags of the US and South Korea hanging on a wall behind. On the body of the aircraft was text reading "the Air Force of the Republic of Korea," in Korean.
"Congratulations to the U.S.-ROK Security Cooperation teams on delivering Global Hawk to the ROK this week. A great day for ROKAF and the ironclad #USROKAlliance. @USForcesKorea," the tweet read.
The image from a hanger and the Ambassador’s comments indicate that the Global Hawk may have already arrived in South Korea and waiting for a formal ceremony. South Korean security officials have earlier told local media that two more Global Hawk units were expected to arrive in in April, after the first RQ-4 Block 30 Global Hawk Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) was brought in December last year.
Seoul purchased four units from the United States. One remaining unit is expected to arrive here within the end the first half 2020.
Meanwhile, the SKAF has been preparing to deploy the Global Hawks ever since the arrival of the first craft in December last. A reconnaissance squadron was established then to operate the drone.
"Global Hawk would begin carrying out missions before the end of this year, though the exact timeframe is subject to change," a military source had told Yonhap News in January this year.
The Northrop Grumman developed Global Hawk is capable of performing reconnaissance missions for around 40 hours at a time at an altitude of roughly 20 kilometers. Its sensors can perform tasks to a range of up to 3,000 km and distinguish objects on the ground as small as 30 centimeters across.
The Global Hawk is expected to maintain round-the-clock surveillance against military activities of North Korea and provide near-realtime intelligence to South Korea and its American allies.