Six units of unmanned aerial vehicles run by South Korean Army battalions were found to have crashed while landing during an operational test last month, raising concerns over a possible setback for their envisioned full-scale deployment, military officials said Thursday.
The Defence Acquisition Program Administration, the country's weapons procurement agency, picked Uconsystem in 2013 as the provider of small drones for a project to boost reconnaissance and preemptive strike capabilities of the Army and Marine Corps.
The accident took place on Dec. 7-9 at five frontline divisions during a test aimed at improving the operators' skills, inflicting damages on the drones' wings and propellers, the officials said.
Produced in September last year, the UAVs dubbed "Remoeye" were initially stationed at some frontline battalions two months later and scheduled to be gradually deployed in other areas by 2018.
The devices, measuring 1.4 meters by 1.8 meters and weighing 3.6 kilograms, can fly as fast as 80 kilometers per hour. Operators should fly them by hand and then use the remote control, and landing takes place as a built-in air bag explodes and absorbs the shock on impact.
The series of accidents spurned concerns that it may hamper the scheduled deployment.
After an investigation, DAPA, the Defence Agency for Technology and Quality, and the Army have concluded that the main cause of the crash of five units was the soldiers' inexperience and the other a defect in the equipment.
"We've suspended the use of the drones and are trying to come up with measures to prevent another accident," a military official said, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue