North Korean authorities are reportedly pushing the mass production of miniature drones to closely reconnoiter major South Korean military facilities.

Essentially, the country is steadily following up on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s call to develop reconnaissance drones, which he made during the recent Eighth Party Congress. 

According to a Daily NK source in the North Korean military on Tuesday, North Korea completed research and development of a miniature drone that transmits data wirelessly late last year. The drone reportedly cannot be used to launch attacks using nuclear warheads or other weapons of mass destruction.

According to South Korean intelligence authorities, the vehicle appears to be an upgrade of the drones with cameras that have been spotted continuously since 2014. This suggests North Korea entertains greater ambitions to reconnoiter South Korea.

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Kim Jong Un at the leadership podium during the Party Foundation Day military parade in Pyongyang on Oct. 10, 2020. / Image: KCNA

The drone has entered the “final screening stage,” according to the source. The Munitions Industry Department of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the defense ministry will conduct tests on the vehicle through the end of March to determine the system’s stability.

Should no major problems arise during the screening, mass production of the drone will reportedly commence right away. The authorities are calling on the military to deploy the drone to frontline army corps (First Corps, Second Corps, Fourth Corps, Fifth Corps) by the end of November.

The source said the country’s leadership has stressed “scientific self-reliance” in the latest order to the military. 

“Once the deployment of miniature drones is complete, we can perfectly ascertain the movements of the enemy, marking a major opportunity to strongly reinforce our national defense and military power,” he said. 

The general consensus in North Korea is that with Kim Jong Un calling for the development of drones capable of conducting minute reconnaissance and “penetrating the front up to 500 kilometers,” drone development will not end with the deployment of the miniature drones later this year. Rather, it will likely continue over the next five years.

The source further said that North Korea will research attack drones by importing different platforms from overseas. He said such development is highly likely in the same vein as the country’s development of “tactical nuclear weapons” capable of launching pincer strikes on the enemy’s major military facilities.

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