US Announces Global Hawk Sale to South Korea

After extensive talks between the US and South Korea, the Department of Defense confirmed the signing Tuesday evening of a hybrid foreign military sales contract for Seoul’s acquisition of four RQ-4B Block 30 Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft. Deliveries of the aircraft will begin in 2017 and conclude by June 2019. The $657 million contract with Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. includes four RQ-4Bs, two spare engines, and applicable “ground control environment elements,” each of which features an enhanced integrated sensor suite. The deal is the culmination of extensive South Korean efforts to build up their own aerial intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities on the peninsula, as improved ISR sharing is a critical part of its efforts to build its own air and missile defense system, which it plans for initial operation by the mid 2020s. Better ISR interoperability with USAF forces in East Asia is also a factor behind proposals for both the South Koreans and Japanese to acquire their own Global Hawks.