WASHINGTON, Dec. 25 (UPI) -- The Pentagon has notified the U.S. Congress on a proposed $1.2 billion sale of four Golden Hawk intelligence and surveillance drones to South Korea.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, in a news release, said the notification to Congress was for four RQ-4 Block 30 (I) Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support as sought by South Korea.
"The Republic of Korea (South Korea) is one of the major political and economic powers in East Asia and the Western Pacific and a key partner of the United States in ensuring peace and stability in that region," the announcement said.
It said South Korea "needs this intelligence and surveillance capability to assume primary responsibility for intelligence gathering from the U.S. led Combined Forces Command in 2015," and that it will have "no difficulty absorbing these systems into its armed forces."
South Korea, which plans to take over wartime operational control of its troops from Washington, has reportedly been seeking such high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles.
The principal contractor will be Northrop Grumman Corp. in Palmdale, Calif., and the sale will not "alter the basic military balance in the region," the DSCA said. Congressional notification on any proposed sale is required by law.
South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, quoting a diplomatic source, said the U.S. Congress is expected to approve the proposal.
The report said the Global Hawk, equipped with cloud-penetrating radar, high-resolution electro-optical digital camera and infrared sensors, can even detect an object less than a foot long flying at an altitude of 12.5 miles.
Earlier this month, North Korea fired a long-range rocket to launch a satellite in space. Since then, South Korean Defense Ministry experts, after analyzing the rocket's debris and using simulation techniques, say the North Koreans may have gained inter-continental ballistic missile capability to reach as far away as the U.S. mainland.