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North Korea unveils two new UAVs

North Korea unveiled two new unmanned aerial vehicles. The development of these aircraft represent a significant capability enhancement for Pyongyang. The aircraft were shown with the KPAF emblem and serial numbers that suggest the likelihood that they have been inducted into service. (Janes)

North Korea has unveiled two new unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which outwardly appear to resemble US-origin UAVs.

The aircraft were shown on 26 July during the visit of Russian Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to the Weapons and Equipment Exhibition 2023 at the Armed Forces Hall in Pyongyang. The aircraft resemble the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) MQ-9 Reaper and the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk.

According to the state-owned television, the larger of the two aircraft had been designated as a reconnaissance aircraft and the smaller Reaper-like UAV has been described as a multirole UAV.

Both models of UAVs carried the inscription‘조선인민군공군' (Korean People's Air Force: KPAF) on the sides of the fuselage. The two aircraft also had serial numbers painted on the sides – potentially indicating the aircraft are in service.

Images on placards accompanying the aircraft at the exhibition also appear to show the aircraft in flight testing. In these images, the reconnaissance UAV can be seen flying, with the tall buildings of Pyongyang in the background. In another image that Janes assessed, Kim can be seen standing next to the multirole UAV at an undisclosed airbase.

Imagery of the multirole UAV also shows that it is equipped with six wing hardpoints. Two of the outboard hardpoints appear to have twin-launchers, capable of mounting one air-to-surface missile each. The multirole UAV has been shown carrying eight of a North Korean version of the AGM-114 Hellfire missile and is also shown carrying two glide munitions. Janes

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