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The U.S. military has announced that it will deploy military attack drones in South Korea amid rising regional tensions.
The decision comes as part of a wider plan to implement one Gray Eagle drone company per military division, as a means to support the U.S. military stationed in the area. The MQ-1C Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), a successor to the Predator drone used worldwide, can stay in the sky for up to 24 hours at a time and can be equipped with hellfire missiles.
“The UAS adds significant intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability to U.S. Forces Korea and our ROK (Republic of Korea) partners,” United States Forces Korea said in a statement.
As recently as one week ago, North Korea launched its latest phase of ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, which landed close to the coast of Japan. Likely part show of strength and earnest attempt at improving its intercontinental capability, Pyongyang conducted the tests as the U.S. and allied South Korean forces engaged in their annual joint military exercises.
The announcement to permanently station the Gray Eagle drones in South Korea also came a day ahead of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s tour of the increasingly volatile region.
David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology. He previously covered civil liberties, crime, and politics for Vice.