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State Dept. approves $950M drone support services sale to South Korea

By Sommer Brokaw
A RQ-4 soars through the sky to record intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force
A RQ-4 soars through the sky to record intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force

July 30 (UPI) -- The State Department on Tuesday informed Congress that it has approved a potential $950 million sale of contractor logistical support services for South Korea's RQ-4 Global Hawk drone fleet.

The support services South Korea is looking to purchase for its RQ-4 Block 30 remotely piloted aircraft fleet includes program management and training for pilots and other personnel.

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The purchase also would include modifications and upgrades to the drones, spares and repair/return parts, flight support, analysis, technical documentation and other logistical and program support.

"The Republic of 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 the region," DSCA said in a press release. "It is vital the to the U.S. national interests to assist the Republic of Korea in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability."

South Korea signed a deal to purchase Global Hawks in 2014, with production starting in 2015 and delivery expected to start last year.

Delivery, however, was delayed due to U.S. cyber security concerns. Part of the delay was caused by improvements to the drone's anti-hacking protection and network encryption to prevent outside interference in the aircraft's operation.

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While the State Department has given the sale its blessing, Congress is required by law to be notified of it.

Northrop Grumman, located in Palmdale, Calif., is the principal contractor on the contract.

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