As global weapon systems become unmanned, Korea is also embarking upon developing robots for national defense.
This roadmap will include medium and long-term strategies to create world-class national defense robots with application of national defense software developed in Korea.
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced on August 12 that it will complete development plans for national defense robots by the end of this year, and initiate development processes early next year. DAPA plans to form a National Defense Unmanned Robot Development Committee with professionals in weapon development and policies from private and military organizations. The committee will be responsible for establishing strategies and building a National Defense Robot Center for practical development processes.
Through this plan, Korea will aim to follow the current global weapon system trend to go unmanned. In fact, the U.S., Israel, Germany, Japan, and China are developing drones and unmanned tanks led by the governments’ national defense robot projects.
Robots of the Korean military force are relatively weak compared to industrial robots, although unmanned monitoring systems are built into some front line units and robots for explosive ordnance disposal have been developed. Worse, the budget for national defense robots is one third of other advanced countries including the U.S., and the robots only have 80 percent of the technological capabilities of robots of other countries.
DAPA targets to secure ground, maritime and aerial unmanned weapon system and figure out the relevant action plans within this year. In short, DAPA will set up unmanned weapon system applicable for the army, navy and air force, including unmanned automobiles, tanks, planes and vessels. Development businesses will be kicked in late this year by the earliest, once strategies are out, and will be completed by 2020.
DAPA will also establish strategies for standardization, modularization, exports, and localization of national defense robots. Especially, DAPA will actively utilize domestic technologies in the software area, which is critical for national defense robots. DAPA aims to realize localization in national defense software by developing key software to operate millions of sensors, and control the system with Korean technologies and existing Korean products.
A national defense software industry professional predicted, “The software application portion is over 80 percent in not only weapon systems, but also robots. As there are many Korean companies that possess various software-related technologies including OSes for drones, communication middleware and DBMS, they could contribute to this robot development project.”