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South Korea’s Spy Satellite vs. North Korea’s Aerial Arsenal – Part 2

Daniel Kim Views  

한국군 vs 북한군, 軍정찰위성 수준 차이는[이현호 기자의 밀리터리!톡]
The North Korean military reconnaissance satellite Malligyong-1 is being launched on the Chonrima 1 rocket. Korean Central News Agency·Yonhap News

Experts, when comparing the space-related technological capabilities of South and North Korea, assert that we have an overwhelming advantage in both space launch vehicles and satellites, including reconnaissance satellites.

“They unanimously agree that there is a significant difference in the surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of reconnaissance satellites, such as their resolution. According to the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), which led the development of the first military reconnaissance satellite, our reconnaissance satellite has 100 times the reconnaissance capability of North Korea’s reconnaissance satellite. The identification area is 3 square meters for North Korea, but only 0.03 square meters for us, which is a difference of 100 times.”

The military has a reconnaissance satellite with less than 11.81 inches resolution. This means that from hundreds of kilometers above, it can identify primary targets of North Korea’s surveillance and reconnaissance, such as ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) and mobile missile launchers, along with the types of moving vehicles. The head of the Space Surveillance and Reconnaissance Project Team of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has stated that compared to North Korea’s reconnaissance satellite, which is at the level of an elementary school student, ours is at the level of a college student.

Our military has launched its fifth reconnaissance satellite, with the unique advantage of combining EO/IR satellites and SAR satellites. The first reconnaissance satellite, the electronic optical camera, can capture clear pictures using visible light, but it is limited to daylight and good weather conditions. Infrared satellites can capture images at night, but they are ineffective in bad weather. However, the SAR satellite is designed to overcome these limitations, and it can perform surveillance and reconnaissance in all weather conditions, whether day or night. Even small SAR satellites from civilian companies such as Finland’s Iceye are currently used in the Ukraine war.

한국군 vs 북한군, 軍정찰위성 수준 차이는[이현호 기자의 밀리터리!톡]
Data: Ministry of Defense

The super small SAR satellite that successfully launched from Jeju Island on January 4 is the first commercial observation satellite developed solely with our technology led by the private sector. The fact that it was launched on a solid rocket is evaluated as a nail in the first competition with North Korea for reconnaissance satellites. This satellite, classified as a super small satellite weighing only 198.41 pounds, can identify objects 3.28 feet in size from hundreds of miles above.

The super small SAR satellite developed with the participation of Hanwha Systems and others is designed to load as much as possible onto the launch vehicle by integrating the payload, body, and solar panels into one, significantly reducing the launch cost. A Hanwha Systems official said, “We were able to reduce the development period and cost by utilizing the transmitter and receiver device technology accumulated during the AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar development process for the Korean-type fighter KF-21.” The military authorities plan to reduce the surveillance cycle of North Korea by the reconnaissance satellite from a 2-hour interval (2025 target) to a 30-minute interval by launching about 40 super small satellites by 2030.

To Read Part 1…
To Read Part 3…
To Read Part 4…

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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