A ‘toy-like’ drone found on an island on the border of North and South Korea was designed to conduct reconnaissance missions, the South has said.
The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was discovered less than an hour after a three-hour sabre-rattling artillery barrage between South and North Korea in each side's territorial waters near a disputed maritime border yesterday.
South Korea's defence ministry declined to comment on the report as its probe was under way, but media reports stated that a military inquiry had determined that the drone was designed for surveillance.
North Korea's state media said last year its leader Kim Jong Un had supervised a drill of "super-precision" drone attacks on a simulated South Korean target, but experts said the crashed drone was an old, poorly-designed model.
"It is like a toy. But for surveillance purposes, it doesn't have to be a high-tech, top-notch military product like Predators or Global Hawk drones," said Kim Hyoung-joong, a cyber defence professor at Korea University in Seoul. “This type of toy-like equipment can find a blind spot."
Yonhap News Agency reported on Wednesday that the drone's flight route appeared to be from the North, citing unidentified South Korean government officials. South Korean military officials said they were also investigating a similar drone found in a border city late last month.
A defence ministry official told a briefing that North Korean-style writing was inscribed on the battery of that drone and its flight route was set up to return north, but it had not yet concluded that the drone was sent by North Korea as investigations proceeded.
Images of Monday's crashed drone showed the wreckage of a small, light-blue aircraft bearing similar paintwork and markings to North Korean drones displayed in a Pyongyang parade last year.
Those drones were larger aircraft modified to crash into pre-determined targets, but are not believed to be capable of air strikes or long-range surveillance flights.