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Deployment of Global Hawk in S. Korea delayed on U.S. budget cut

Jan. 30, 2012 - 16:53 By Korea Herald
The incorporation of the very-high altitude unmanned aerial vehicle Global Hawk into the South Korean military and the U.S. Forces Korea will be delayed due to the U.S. government’s decision to reduce defense spending.

On Thursday the U.S. government announced that it will cut defense spending by about $500 billion over the next 10 years. As a result, the U.S. military’s plans to introduce advanced defense systems such as the Global Hawk were also modified.

According to reports, the U.S. military will delay the timing of the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft’s removal from the U.S. Forces Korea’s arsenal at least until 2020.

In addition, changes to the South Korean military’s plans to incorporate the Global Hawk into its arsenal looks inevitable, which in turn, will result in Seoul continuing to rely on the U.S. for reconnaissance for some time to come.

The U.S. Forces Korea had originally planned to take out the U-2 in 2015 at the latest, and deploy the new Global Hawk.

The change was planned in light of the Global Hawk’s longer flight time and operational radius that made it suitable for reconnaissance on North Korea. In addition, difficulties the U.S. Air Force has been experiencing in securing pilots capable of operating the U-2, which is said to require highly trained personnel, is also thought to have contributed to the decision.

Since the U-2 was first developed in 1955, eight modified versions have been developed, and the U.S. Forces Korea currently operates three U-2s that offer the longest flight range and the most advanced reconnaissance capability among the models.

By Choi He-suk  (