North Korea’s military authorities recently conducted successful tests of reconnaissance and offensive-use “miniaturized unmanned drones,” Daily NK has learned.

Unmanned drones have been a significant focus of attention within North Korea’s military because North Korean leader Kim Jong Un referred to their development as an “important task” for the country during the Eighth Party Congress in January.

A Daily NK military source reported yesterday that the tests occurred over three days from Apr. 10 at a test facility in Banghyun District in the city of Gusong, North Pyongan Province. Researchers, engineers, and other officials from the Munitions Industry Department, Academy of National Defense Science, and the Ministry of Defense’s Bureau of Weapons Review observed the tests.

Military authorities aimed to complete the tests by Apr. 15 – Kim Il Sung’s birthday – and informed the country’s leadership on Apr. 14 that they had conducted “successful final tactical and technical data stabilization tests” of the drones.

The military leadership appears to have been greatly encouraged by the successful tests. Kim Jong Un reportedly handed down a personally signed “grateful message” saying that the successful tests “establishes yet another cornerstone to promote the advancement and strength of the Korean People’s Army.”

A North Korean drone discovered in South Korea’s Gangwon Province in June 2017 on display. / Image: Yonhap

The message also expressed gratefulness at the “hard work of all on-site researchers and [test] reviewers, who took the lead in ensuring our Party’s historical military advance [is based] on the strongest of military power.”

The successful tests are all the more meaningful because the military authorities have claimed that both reconnaissance and offensive-use drones have been successfully tested, the source said.

North Korean engineers are reportedly placing significance on the successful tests of the drones – reportedly capable of “precision reconnaissance of areas deep within the frontline” – because Kim Jong Un himself has promoted their development.

Military authorities are particularly emphasizing the fact that the country has completed the development of offensive-use drones capable of precision “suicide” attacks on enemy forces. In fact, the authorities have claimed to have successfully tested unmanned drones equipped with “universal control technology.”

In short, North Korean authorities claim to have developed unmanned drones that can conduct reconnaissance of major South Korean military facilities along with “pincer attacks” on these facilities. Daily NK’s source reported that the military plans to continue research on these drones and advance their development over the next five years.

The source also noted that North Korean military authorities began production on the successfully tested drones after Apr. 15 with a view to place both reconnaissance and attack drones in the field by November of this year.

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