Aircraft maker KAI wins deal to develop SAR spy satellite

Park Sae-jin Reporter Posted : 2018-12-05 14:23 Updated : 2018-12-05 14:23
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[Courtesy of Korea Aerospace Industries]


SEOUL -- South Korea's sole aircraft maker, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), won a defense deal to develop spy satellites installed with a synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) that generates high-resolution remote sensing imagery by September 2025.

SAR uses the motion of a radar antenna over a target region to provide finer spatial resolution than conventional beam-scanning radars. The deal worth about 588 billion won ($529 million) was awarded by the Agency for Defense Development (ADD), a military research body, which is in charge of the so-called 425 project to develop reconnaissance satellites.

Originally, the project calls for the development of four satellites fitted with SAR and one satellite to obtain infrared and high-resolution electro-optical images by 2020, but it has been delayed for technical and other reasons. The main purpose of spy satellites is to collect military information in North Korea and other countries.

KAI, the key player in South Korea's high-profile defense projects, said in a statement Wednesday that the deal with ADD would be a starting point to expand its business into military satellites. Under a 280 billion won contract with KAI, Hanwha Systems will develop and provide SAR sensors and a data link system.

KAI and Hanwha teamed up with Thales Alenia Space Italia, which specializes in space infrastructure and transportation, to develop the SAR payload, after a consortium involving LIG Nex1 and German-based Airbus Defence and Space lost its status as the preferred bidder.