North Korean spy drone took pictures of Thaad anti-missile defence system in South Korea

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during a successful intercept test, in this undated handout photo provided by the US Department of Defence, Missile Defence Agency.
A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during a successful intercept test, in this undated handout photo provided by the US Department of Defence, Missile Defence Agency.PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (The Korea Herald/Asia News Network) - An aircraft thought to be a North Korean drone discovered in South Korea last week was found to have taken pictures of a US advanced anti-missile system deployed in South Korea, the South's military said on Tuesday (June 13), confirming the suspicion that the drone was on a spy mission.

Discovered on a mountain near the inter-Korean border on Friday (June 9), the drone was found to carry more than 10 photos of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (thaad) battery stationed in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province, according to Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"In an analysis of the camera memory (of the drone), we found pictures of Seongju. It also took pictures of the northern region of Seongju, where Thaad is deployed," a JCS official said on the condition of anonymity.

Inside the drone, hundreds of photos of South Korea were found, most of them pictures of forests and villages, the JCS said. About 4 per cent of them were of the Seongju region, it added.

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The South Korean military is trying to figure out where in the North the drone was flown from. North Korea sent similar drones to South Korea in 2014, one of which was found to have taken pictures of Cheong Wa Dae.

The recent drone appears to be very similar in design to the one found in 2014, which used technology from the 1960s, and therefore may not be capable of transmitting the photos to North Korea remotely.

Equipped with a digital camera made by the Japanese company Sony, the device looked bigger than the previous drone, the JCS said. It also employed a twin-engine, not a single-engine used by the previous model found on Baeknyeong Island near the border, the military added.