Murphy's Law: And Then There Were Three

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April 13, 2014: South Korea recently revealed that a third North Korea UAV had been found 130 kilometers south of the DMZ on October 3rd 2013 by a man out gathering medicinal herbs near the top of a 1,040 meter (3,500 foot) mountain. The North Korea UAV was not identified as such and was hanging from a tree by the parachute that had apparently brought it to earth. The man had removed the commercial digital camera and found it damaged by melting snow. It was a commercial grade camera that he discarded because of the water damage. He removed the memory chip, which was OK, and looked at the photos (mostly of Gwangdong dam and areas along the nearby coast). The man erased the memory chip and reused it for something else. The man never bothered to report the UAV until April 3rd, after he read about the other two and the photos of one of them resembled the one he found. The man then took the investigators to where the UAV was still hanging from a tree, but with a hole in it where the camera used to be.

The media announcement that made most South Koreans aware of what these new North Korean UAVs looked like described  two small (1.9 meter/six foot wingspan) UAVs found in late March and investigators were certain that they were North Korean. The two UAVs used commercially available Chinese and Japanese components that any tourist could walk into a store and buy. One UAV was found March 31st on one of the islands near the maritime border with North Korea. The other one was found south of the DMZ on the 24th. The UAVs carried high resolution commercial cameras that took pictures when over certain GPS coordinates. The 193 photos found on one UAV included the presidential compound and some military facilities. The other one was photographing military facilities on the island. UAVs this small are hard to spot with radar if they come in very low (under 100 meters/330 feet). South Korea is now going to upgrade its aerial surveillance to handle this new (but not unknown) threat. Israel has a similar problem and has developed technology to deal with it. Since Israel sells a lot of military gear to South Korea, it came as no surprise when South Korea recently announced the purchase of ten Israeli radars built to detect small, low flying UAVs. 

 

 


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