Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The U.S. Army will go ahead with its original plan to deploy a squadron of its General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle a medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) armed aerial drone to South Korea in either March or April.
The 12 Gray Eagles will be permanently stationed at Kunsan Air Base where construction of hangars and supporting is almost complete. An upgrade of the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator flown exclusively by the U.S. Air Force, Gray Eagle can operate for 36 hours at altitudes as high as 7,600 meters. It also has an operational range of 400 kilometers.
This aerial drone can be armed with either AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and GBU-44/B Viper Strike guided bombs or a mix of both. It can be used to destroy military targets or for precision strikes (including assassinations) against high-value enemy targets such as their political and military leadership.
The U.S. first announced its intent to permanently base a Gray Eagle squadron in South Korea in march 2017. At the time, it said the drones will add “significant intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability” for American and South Korean forces.
The Gray Eagles and the Theater High Altitude Terminal Defense system (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile defences in South Korea are part of the U.S. response to an accelerated program of missile and nuclear testing by North Korea.
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