ROK Military To Weaponized Drone Unit Next Year

The ROK military is embracing the future of combat by using swarms of cheaply made and weaponized drones to attack enemy targets:

South Korean troops use reconnaissance drones during training in this file photo provided by the Korea Army Academy at Yeong-Cheon. (Yonhap)

South Korea’s Army will create a combat unit of weaponized drones next year to help counter North Korea’s threats, an official said Tuesday.

The Army calls the envisioned defense asset a “dronebot,” a combination of the words “drone” and “robot.”

“The Army plans to set up a special organization to lead the development of dronebots, establish a standard platform and expand the dronebot program by function,” the Army official said, requesting anonymity. “To begin with, we will launch a dronebot combat unit next year and use it as a ‘game changer’ in warfare.”

The team will operate reconnaissance dronebots against such core North Korean targets as nuclear and missile sites. In case of a contingency, swarms of dronebots will be mobilized to launch attacks.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.



I am a US military veteran that has served all over the world to include in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea. I have been blogging about Korea, Northeast Asia, and the US military for over 10 years.


  1. It looks cute, but a lot of militaries like to impose a sort of central control over such things, and that will make the “army of drones” vulnerable both to electronic countermeasures and to a single hit that would take out the control center. I’m going to stipulate that I know very little about these kinds of tools, but I’d like to hear from thsoe who know more, about any possible pitfalls in using these things. For example, if the cameras on these things have to be monitored in order for them to be useful, then you are flooding the battlefield with a lot of individuals who are choosing when and where to fight, so you won’t have unit cohesion, and you may have a lot of potentially wasted effort. So I’m just asking for anyone to comment who might know better than I do.

  2. Decentralized efforts will result in more “friendly fire” accidents.

    And also a sort of jamming of signals as the local airwaves are saturated.

    There are reasons other than greed and incompetence for military hardware costing more. Same with disk drives aimed at consumer PCs vs SAN/NAS arrays in data centers.

  3. Costs 100x as much as the NORKs masking taped Canon DSLR drone and probably not much more performance.

  4. @Jon Paul, as far as “central control,” from the beginning of drone use there’s been research on how much autonomy they could have. There are technical and philosophical arguments for and against too much autonomy vs too much remote control. Advances in computer processors and machine learning AI are making greater autonomy possible.

    Autonomy would mean for a given mission the operator only has to give the drone the outlines of “what to do” and the drone has the “intelligence” to figure “how to do” it. For example, in the future, the operator instructs the drone to “find enemy targets.” The drone makes its own decisions on how to navigate in the search area based on terrain and environment and then discriminate enemy from non-enemy based on things like their equipment and behavior.

    The article also mentioned “swarms of dronebots.” Drone swarms have also been studied for some time. Think of a swarm of micro-drones with chemical sensors sent out to find nuclear biological and chemical (NBC) or IED traces like a swarm of bees looking for pollen.

    There can also be large drone collective behaviors often referred to as pack behavior. A group of semi-autonomous drones working together with one drone designated as the flight light lead issuing commands to the others to accomplish the attack or recon mission. If the lead drone is taken out then another drone in the pack automatically takes over the flight lead role. Yes, very much like a wolf pack.

    @Jon Paul also touched on another issue: The “cameras on these things have to be monitored in order for them to be useful. ..” For the foreseeable future we still need to have humans in the loop to make critical decisions. <a href=""And with more drones the information overload can have deadly consequences. Advances in machine learning will help sort, filter and reduce non-essential information from critical information but we will be betting lives until we get it right.

  5. Thanks a bunch JOEC. I infer from you post that the future of drones is bright. I wonder whether the ones in the picture have some form of AI that they are linked with.

  6. Who TF though DroneBot was a good name? Anyway you know how you can spot Army BS? Weapons, TA-50, mags+blank adapters, and camo… mother f’ing camo. If you’re serious about training on how to operate rotary drones you ain’t having none of that shit.

    Meanwhile here are your tax dollars at work with respects to real UAV Swarming:
    (No clue what that beast is in the last 1/3 of the clip though…)

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