Air Platforms

South Korean KUS-FS MALE UAV continues flight trials as development draws to a conclusion

21 March 2018
A model of the KUS-FS MALE UAV seen at the recent ADEX exhibition in Seoul. The aircraft is being developed for the Republic of Korea Air Force. Source: IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings

South Korea has performed further flight trials of its indigenously developed Korean Unmanned System (KUS)-FS medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), ahead of the planned conclusion of development later this year.

Images posted online on 17 March showed the UAV, serial number 001, performing unspecified trials, the details of which were not disclosed. Built by Korean Air Aerospace Division (KAL-ASD) on behalf of the Korean Agency for Defense Development (ADD), the KUS-FS made its maiden flight in 2012.

Previously known as the Medium-Altitude UAV, the KUS-FS MALE UAV is being developed for the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) and is in the same class as the US-built General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9 Reaper UAV. Speaking to Jane’s at the recent Seoul International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (ADEX), ADD officials noted that there has been no foreign involvement in the development of the KUS-FS, and that the physical resemblance to the GA-ASI Predator/Reaper is down to that being the optimum design for this class of UAV.

The KUS-FS is approximately 11 m in length, has a 25 m wingspan and is powered by a single 1,200hp engine. Jane’s has previously been told that the aircraft has a cruise speed of 169 kt, a range of 1,852 km, an endurance of 32 hours, and a service ceiling of 50,000 ft. The latest images showed it to be equipped with four underwing hardpoints, a chin-mounted electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor turret, satellite communications (SATCOM), and other sensors that could include a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and/or a ground-target moving indicator (GMTI).

Roles earmarked for the KUS-FS include strike, communications relay, electronic warfare (EW), signals intelligence (SIGINT), as well as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). A single system will comprise three to five air vehicles, a ground control station (GCS) – capable of controlling multiple platforms – and ground support elements.

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