SEOUL --- The United States will delay the delivery of two RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to South Korea until the first half of 2019 for additional cybersecurity-related measures, Seoul's arms agency said Friday.
South Korea was supposed to receive two advanced drones in the latter half of this year, with two more to arrive later, under a 2014 contract.
The U.S., however, notified the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) of a plan to postpone the delivery, saying it needs to beef up the anti-hacking system and take other steps related to cybersecurity.
Despite the delay, DAPA said, the other two Global Hawks will be handed over to Seoul next year as scheduled.
"The delivery time for Japan and NATO has been put off by a year," a DAPA official said.
Global Hawk aircraft operate at the altitude of some 20 kilometers for a relatively long time to provide military field commanders with near real-time imagery with a maximum resolution of 0.3 meter.
It's expected to play a key role in South Korea's efforts to beef up its airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities against North Korea's threats.
The [Republic of Korea] Air Force launched a new ISR unit last December to operate the Global Hawks.