South Korea is developing a kamikaze drone, reportedly for launching at targets in North Korea.
Named the Devil Killer, the South Korean kamikaze UAV is being developed by Korea Aerospace Industries, Konkuk University and Hanyang University.
According to information now released by Korea Aerospace Industries, the Devil Killer is around five feet long and has about a four foot wingspan. Powered by an electric motor, it has a top speed of 250 miles per hour and is designed for one-time only missions, although its exact range, endurance and explosive capability aren't clear.
We do know, however, that the Devil Killer UAV is designed as a portable weapon, it uses GPS to navigate and it can be operated manually or pre-programmed to route along an automatic flightpath.
Devil Killer Drone
As with the US-built Aerovironment Switchblade, the South Korean Devil Killer drone can be rerouted in mid-flight, according to mission requirements, and it's expected to enter service in 2015, once its development and testing programmes have been concluded. What's more, it's been suggested that basing the Devil Killer on Yeonpyeong Island could put it within range of North Korean targets.
Kamikaze (‘Divine Wind' in English) emerged as an attack technique during WW2, when Japanese pilots, devoted to serving their Emperor and their country to the end, intentionally flew their aircraft into allied warships located in the Pacific. The Kamikaze attack approach turned aircraft - Mitsubishi A6M Zeros among them - into weapons and the technique reached peak levels during the 1945 Battle of Okinawa, during which hundreds of Imperial Japanese Army Air Force aircraft were launched at the US Navy's positioned fleet.
South Korean Kamikaze Drone
In the modern era of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), kamikaze attacks need not now result in the loss of human life and that's the principle behind the new South Korean kamikaze drone.
South Korea has been actively upgrading its air force of late, following the lead taken by other Asian nations. Its current projects include choosing between the AH-64D Apache and AH-1Z Viper helicopter gunships for its AH-X (Heavy Attack Helicopter) programme and upgrading its KF-16 Fighting Falcon multirole combat aircraft.
Image copyright US Navy - Courtesy Wikimedia Commons. Used for representative purposes only