South Korea is reportedly working on developing an indigenous multi-role unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capability called the Night Intruder 600 VT, keeping in mind its future Army requirements. The development is part of an internally funded Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) program.
South Korea’s first home-grown UAV went by the nickname ‘Songgolmae’, RQ-101 or Night Intruder 300 and was launched in 2000. It’s successful deployment commenced two years later.
Kwak Kyoung Ryoung, deputy senior manager at KAI’s UAV Business and Program Management Team said, “Development of the Night Intruder 600 VT commenced in 2017 and we have based it on a commercially available two-seat helicopter for logistical and maintenance efficiencies,”. Kwak further added “Using the latest lightweight helicopter platforms eliminates concern about parts obsolescence or discontinuity, and is much more cost effective than developing a bespoke airframe,”. He declined to disclose details of the air vehicle’s propulsion system, although he did reveal that engineers were aiming for 6-hour endurance with a full-mission load out.
The prototype of the 600VT air vehicle has an overall length of 9 m, a width of 2 m, the height of 2.5 m, and a planned maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 600 kg, which would eventually get extended to more than 750 kg as the program matures.
Reports from janes.com give some additional information about the features of the air vehicle-it is equipped with a chin-mounted stabilized electro-optical infrared (EO/IR) turret fitted with high-definition daylight and thermal cameras; besides a laser rangefinder or designator can also be incorporated to provide targeting support to forward-deployed Army ground elements. Additionally other mission payloads being planned include a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) system. Anticipating a contested operational environment KAI has incorporated patented GPS anti-jamming capabilities to reduce the UAV’s susceptibility against interference and intentional jamming.
600VT will also be equipped with a redundant flight control and communications system. The initial approach would be employing combined C-band satellite communications (SATCOM) – which has the capability of operating at lower frequencies and is hence able to offer improved performance under adverse weather conditions as compared to the Ku-band or Ka-band frequencies – and ultra-high frequency radio for assured control.
Flight trials of the new Intruder 600VT UAV are expected to commence in 2019.