The South Korean military has signed a contract to develop unmanned surveillance sensors aimed at strengthening surveillance capabilities in the DMZ and the surrounding area.
While the development of these sensors would help to ensure the safety of troops stationed near the DMZ, a military expert said that such an effort must be undertaken in parallel with efforts to lower tensions with North Korea.
Hanwha Thales, a domestic defense manufacturer, has signed a 3.6 billion-won ($3.1-million) contract to help in the development of these sensors with South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).
A DAPA representative told NK News that the sensors will greatly improve South Korea’s capacity to detect North Korean troops attempting to infiltrate and potentially endanger South Korean lives.
“The sensors will be offered to South Korean military units that are at least the size of a company,” said the DAPA official.
“Sensors will be planted at the lanes that are expected to be used by North Koreans during their infiltration attempts. Also, the sensors will be implemented at the zones where South Korean military personnel cannot reach. The system will greatly improve the overall surveillance capacity at the DMZ and its surrounding regions.”
Last August, two South Korean non-commissioned officers (NCO) both lost their legs due to the explosion of mines allegedly planted by North Korean troops.
“Unfortunately these sensors will not be able to detect mines buried in the ground,” said the official.
“But we will be able to track the movement of infiltrators and prevent any of their offensive attempts against our troops. The sensors will help to make sure that our service members are not exposed to similar dangers.”
But the system will take at least four years to be adapted to the DMZ.
“By next year, we will analyze if the project is worth continuing and pouring money in to. Should we decide whether to continue the project we will soon get into its second phase, which will include the building of prototype sensors,” said the official.
“After this phase, manufacturers will be able to mass produce the sensors and they will be deployed to the South Korean Army and Marine Corps.”
Kim Min-seok, senior researcher from the Korea Defense and Security Forum, believes that the development of this sensor system must happen in parallel with government attempts to improve relations with North Korea.
“The soldiers guarding the DMZ are isolated from society and stressed with the burden of daily surveillance missions,” said Kim.
“Decreasing soldiers’ workload with new sensors will only work as the temporary solution. In the long term, we need to decrease the number of soldiers stationed near the DMZ, and this can only be achieved through the South Korean government’s effort to relieve tensions between the two Koreas.”
Main Image: ROK MND Flickr
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