North Korea Reportedly Close to Mass Manufacturing of Drones
The drones will not be armed, but will be used to keep an eye on South Korean movements along the border.
At the recent Eighth Party Congress, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is said to have called for the development of a fleet of reconnaissance drones.
Now, a new report says development of such drones are underway.
According to a report by Daily NK, North Korea is “pushing the mass production of miniature drones to closely reconnoiter major South Korean military facilities.” The publication’s source said that North Korea “completed research and development of a miniature drone that transmits data wirelessly late last year.”
The drones, however, cannot be used to launch attacks with weapons.
Once testing is done, the country plans to begin “mass production” soon, the source said. The Daily NK story also said that the North Korean regime is seeking to use drones that are “capable of conducting minute reconnaissance and ‘penetrating the front up to 500 kilometers.’”
An analysis published by The National Interest in January, by Robert E. Kelley, looked at how countries like North Korea are making use of drones.
“For smaller powers like North Korea or Iran, drones offer two other benefits. First, because drones are so comparatively inexpensive, they open the possibility of contesting U.S. air dominance. To be sure, such a challenge is still small,” Kelley wrote. “But in environments where U.S. air superiority is nearly complete, drones open up new space and possibilities, and this is bound to be attractive.”
In addition, the North Korean regime has been known to have interest in drone technology going back as far as the ‘70s. As of about a year ago, North Korea was thought to have a small drone fleet, “dedicated to surveillance, scouting, and (relatively unsophisticated) attack, along with a system of command and control for managing those UAVs.”
According to a report by 38 North, the Eighth Party Congress ran from January 5 through 12, and was the regime’s first such event in five years, and featured both more attendees and a longer duration than such events have typically had .
“The strategy for economic development is inward-oriented, the role of the state is to be strengthened, no new reforms are planned, and no major political purge took place,” that report said. Kim Jong-un reportedly spoke for a total of nine hours, much longer than he had at the previous party Congress.
The event was also said to feature less self-criticism of the regime than had been the case in 2016.
“The Party turned the enemy’s fierce sanctions into a golden opportunity to increase self-reliance and internal power,” Kim Jong-un reportedly said at the event. “Although the strategic goals in the field of economic construction were not reached, a valuable foundation for sustainable economic development on its own was laid.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.