Israeli defence company to help build drones for South Korea

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel’s largest defence contractor is helping to build drones for South Korea’s military, which is in a perpetual standoff with neighbouring North Korea, and also for the country’s civilian market, the company said on Tuesday.

State-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) said it partnered with Kankuk Carbon, a South Korean company specializing in composite material, to develop a new generation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The joint venture, called Korea Aviation Technologies, is first planning to manufacture a vertical-takeoff-and-landing UAV with a maximum takeoff weight of 300 to 450 kg (660 to 990 pounds), but it may branch into other models as well, IAI said.

Tension on the Korean peninsula has risen in recent weeks as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump exchanged threats and insults over the North’s development of missiles and nuclear weapons.+

IAI is Israel’s top-selling defence group, and its satellite, weapons and drones systems are used in many countries around the world.

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch, editing by Larry King