North Korea recently launched four ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan at a time when the United States and South Korea were conducting Foal Eagle exercise, their annual joint military exercise. The act of Pyongyang is seen as a provocation, and it has compelled Washington to explore methods to rein in the ambitions of North Korea. As reported by CNN, the United States plans to position attack drones in South Korea on a permanent basis.

Gray Eagle attack drones

The U.S. will position the Gray Eagle Unmanned Aerial System in South Korea. This system is equipped with Hellfire missiles and can remain airborne for 24 hours.

Such an action would add to the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of the US Forces in North Korea.

The reconnaissance and surveillance technology of Gray Eagle is superior to that available in the Predator drones which the US military has used in several operations. Moreover, the proposed drones can integrate easily with Apache helicopters, and this aspect would prove advantageous in avoiding bad weather in the Korean Peninsula. The US military has already sent a number of Apaches to South Korea.

The intention of the United States and its regional ally is to demonstrate that they can face the challenges posed by North Korea and have the necessary ammunition which should act as a deterrent to the provocations of DPRK (Democratic Republic of Korea).

The THAAD complication

THAAD or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense is a US-built defensive missile system designed to bring down incoming missiles. South Korea had agreed to deploy them but, in view of the recent political changes, there are doubts about the deployment even though the shipment has started to arrive.

China perceives THAAD as a threat to its own security interests.

Even though it is just a defensive system, China is worried about its radar and surveillance capabilities.

Strategy of the United States

The recent missile launches carried out by Pyongyang is a matter of concern for the US and its allies. By conducting such tests, North Korea probably wants to advertise the fact that it is refining its missile technology.

Therefore, America wants to make a counter statement by positioning Gray Eagle attack drones in South Korea.

It is all about sending out a clear message to both Pyongyang and its ally Beijing, that Washington cannot be cowed down. It is a major player in Asia and is worried about the developments in the region.