US Deploys Gray Eagle Drones in South Korea as Tensions Mount
Stars and Stripes reports that Gray Eagle Drones capable of carrying Hellfire Missiles are set to be deployed in South Korea soon. They will be assigned to the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division at Kunsan Air Base. It is unclear exactly how many of the drones is expected at the base.
The Gray Eagle Drones are an advanced version of the Predator Drone.
Here is the military situation at this point prior to deployment of the Gray Eagles:
“In case of a war on the Korean Peninsula, the unmanned aircraft could infiltrate into the skies of North Korea and make a precision strike on the war command and other major military facilities.” South Korean official
According to the Company that created it, General Atomics Aeronautical, the drone’s mission includes, “Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), convoy protection, Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detection and defeat, close air support, communications relay, and weapons delivery missions.”
It’s that whole “weapons delivery mission” along with its other advances that makes it a formidable flock of birds for the US presence in South Korea. These Gray Eagles aren’t just an unmanned reconnaissance aircraft that flies around not doing much except taking pictures. It’s an extension of American firepower and numerous other capabilities.
The MQ-1C Gray Eagle is compatible with a Boeing AH-64E “Echo” Apache Helicopter, increasing the Apache’s ability to find targets even before their instruments can read it. The Gray Eagle can fly at 24,000 feet. It can fly for 25-30 hours, but the newest improved Gray Eagle – Extended Range can fly for nearly double that amount and at an altitude of 29,000 feet.
The Gray Eagle can also be directly controlled by field commanders, extending “overwatch” to ground forces and providing close air support.
The joint US -South Korea drills were scheduled to be completed today, but the fleet of Gray Eagles will remain.
Featured photo: A soldier with Delta Company, 25th Aviation Regiment inspects the airframe of an MQ-1C Gray Eagle last year at Fort Wainwright, Alaska’s Ladd Army Airfield.
SEAN BRADY/U.S. ARMY