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Update: KAI, Northrop Grumman partner to develop VTOL UAVs

Janes assesses that the design of the new VTOL UAV by KAI and Northrop Grumman could be influenced by the US company's MQ-8C UAV (pictured). (US Navy)

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) signed an agreement with Northrop Grumman to develop vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that can be operated from warships and coastguard vessels.

Janes understands that the Republic of Korea (RoK) Navy plans to acquire around 20 of these VTOL UAVs.

The UAVs will be used for “territorial defence missions” such as persistent surveillance, reconnaissance, and target acquisition in the maritime environment, KAI said in a media release on 19 January.

The capabilities offered by Northrop Grumman can enable military operators to deploy multiple UAVs in real time, and simultaneously “share intelligence information between air and ground forces”, a company spokesperson told Janes on 25 January.

KAI expects to reduce the time period and “risks” involved in the research and development (R&D) of VTOL UAVs by partnering with Northrop Grumman.

Janes assesses that the design of the new VTOL UAVs can be influenced by Northrop Grumman's MQ-8C UAV. KAI will also be able to leverage its experience of developing the Night Intruder 600 VT UAV during the joint R&D efforts for the new UAVs.

According to Janes All the World's Aircraft: Unmanned, the MQ-8C can be currently deployed from any littoral combat ship (LCS) as well as from prepared and unprepared landing zones to conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); target acquisition; communications relay; and to provide battlefield management support to the tactical commander.

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