Report: Army resumes unarmed military vehicle flights near Korea DMZ
November 1, 2004
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — The U.S. military in South Korea has resumed flying unmanned aerial vehicles near the Demilitarized Zone, a U.S. Forces Korea newspaper reported Friday.
Last September, military officials touted the addition of the Shadow 200 Tactical UAV to the 2nd Infantry Division’s assets, setting up a media day for local journalists to watch it in action. But just a few weeks after the first missions were flown, one of the UAVs crashed.
The media day was canceled, and flights were suspended for an extended period of time while an investigation into the incident was conducted.
In Friday’s edition of the Morning Calm, the Army newspaper for South Korea, a 2nd Infantry Division public affairs article detailed operations by the 102nd Military Intelligence Battalion, which flies the UAVs from Camp Mobile.
The battalion is helping “pave the future by testing unmanned aerial vehicles,” the article reads.
“The UAVs help the division and brigade commanders to make timely decisions on the battlefield and also provide battle damage assessment to the field artillery commander,” 1st Lt. Dan Nadon-Rzasa is quoted as saying.
“It allows us to gather intelligence needed from a safe distance away.”
According to information provided by 2nd Infantry Division officials last year, the first UAVs were deployed in South Korea on Sept. 23, 2003, with the first flights conducted from Camp Mobile three days later.
After about 40 flights, the officials said, one of the UAVs crashed on Oct. 16. Officials said engine failure caused the Shadow to crash by the Sinchon River near Tongduchon. A U.S. military team recovered the wreckage about two hours after the crash.
No injuries or property damage were reported. The Army’s UAV program manager suspended operations in all areas except the Middle East after two other incidents involving the Shadow that same week in Iraq and at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.
The Shadow is manufactured by AAI Corp., a Hunt Valley, Md.-based company. According to the company, the light, rail-launched drone has a 13-foot wingspan and 60 pounds of surveillance equipment. It flies between 10,000 to 14,000 feet in altitude about 30 miles ahead of U.S. forces, according to the military.
Officials have said they are flying the craft only on the South Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone.
In recent years, UAVs have become ubiquitous military tools, widely used in Afghanistan and Iraq both as intelligence tools and offensive weapons. In a 2002 strike, CIA officials tracked and killed a suspected al-Qaida operative in Yemen, firing a Hellfire missile from a Predator drone.
The Shadow UAV had been scheduled for deployment with the 2nd ID since late 2001, officials said last year.