Meet North Korea’s Latest Drone

As Iran and China and who knows who else scrambles to unlock the secrets of the U.S. Air Force’s stealthy RQ-170 Sentinel drone, North Korea is moving to reverse engineer some 1970s-vintage target drones.

Yup, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency is reporting that the North has bought up old MQM-107D Streaker target drones from Syria with the intent of developing high speed attack drones based on the tech. The hilariously named Streaker (its replacement, the BQM-167 Skeeter has a similarly amusing name if you’ve listened to hip hop anytime in the last decade) was developed in the 1970s for the U.S. Army to tow gun and missile targets. IN the late 1980s, Beechcraft proposed making a version of the Streaker that could carry electronic countermeasers and serve as a flying decoy over combat zones.

North Korea is developing unmanned attack aircraft using U.S. target drones purchased from the Middle East, a military source in Seoul said Sunday, indicating the aircraft will likely target the South.

“North Korea recently bought several U.S. MQM-107D Streakers from a Middle Eastern nation that appears to be Syria, and is developing unmanned attack aircraft based on them,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

The MQM-107D Streaker is a high-speed target drone used by the U.S. and South Korean militaries for testing guided missiles.

North Korea has conducted numerous tests on high-speed target drones mounted with high explosives, but has yet to master the technology, the source said, citing South Korean intelligence sources.

If it succeeds in developing the attack aircraft, the North appears likely to deploy them near the inter-Korean border to target South Korean troops stationed on border islands in the Yellow Sea.

  • Commetor123

    Can it carry anti-ship missiles? I’m wondering about these in a swarming attack on a carrier or landing force.

  • John Moore

    I think it would be far more painful psychologically to get hit with your own tech that fell into enemy hands.

  • Jeff

    Well this really makes it easy practicing to shoot them down.

  • Winston

    …wait…Do they have plans to terrorize London?

  • Rodrigo

    they gotta start somewhere, a target drone is a good choice to cover the basics with cheaper training i guess. There is no point in simply trying to have bleeding edge tech all the time, you can still kill people throwing rocks, i bet you can reverse engineer a bunch of old stuff and updated it to make it suitable for tons of operations.

  • blight

    Working on figuring out when the Syrians procured these drones. No clues so far.

    Wikipedia’s list is:

    Australia (N28 Kalkara AKA MQM-107E)
    Egypt (999H, 999L)
    Iran (MQM-107A)
    Jordan (MQM-107A)
    Republic of Korea (999D)
    Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (MQM-107D)
    Singapore
    Sweden (999A)
    Taiwan (999F)
    Turkey (999L)
    United Arab Emirates (999L)
    United States (All Variants)

    What’s sad is that this is the primary source:
    http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2012/0

    Kind of short?

  • McPosterdoor

    Wouldn’t you think Iran gave them to Syria? That seems the obv, choice. That or the Swedes, infiltrating us with their Dragon Tattoo propaganda.

  • Jay

    They could have picked them up off of black market easily. Any one of those Arab countries that don’t keep a good inventory could have given them up. North Korea is turning into China, they are on the way to indegionously producing most things they pick up along the way. They will reverse this technology and be able to create more sophisticated RPA’s.

    I have a question, does anyone know how easy it will be for them to turn a Mig-15 through Mig-21 into an unmanned drone? I know they are a long ways away from getting to this but I’ve heard it being down to a F-4 Phantom II a while ago.

  • Jay

    Understood. But with Iran they would go through Iraq… Whatever customs they have there and Egypt has tunnels going into Israel for smuggling. It just seems like the countries around that region don’t watch things that should be. (Other than Isreal)

  • Lance

    the US used these drones in Vietnam to recon areas in Hanoi where the air defenses where too heavy for a RF-4 could fly near. So North Korea could get some reconnaissance and even very light attack with these drones. But this technology is very limited and can not hold much a of any weapons load and or carry electronic sensors like modern UAVs have. How ever to distract US and ROK air defenses away from manned North Koran planes could be done with this drone.

  • Kski

    Well I guess the everyone concerned is scrambling to figure this one problem out.

  • Cylon

    An unnamed South Korean military source who gave out second hand information.

    Yes, very trustworthy.

    • blight

      Almost as bad as mobile WMD trucks (though Biopreparat likely did have them, and Biopreparat hysteria likely motivated arms control organizations throughout the ’90s and early 2k’s, though they don’t talk about it).

  • 4mer03sgt

    nest they will be usning old Z28 camaro’s as fast-attack urban assault vehicles! Morons…