Colombia is in the process of building its own unmanned aircraft and advanced military radar to combat insurgents and drug trafficking organizations, reported local media Thursday.
Colombia is set to increase its investment in drone technology over the coming years, Vice Minister for Defense Yaneth Giha revealed Thursday.
“We in Colombia have decided to work on a path of technological development as large as those in Korea and Israel,” Giha told press at a defense exposition in the capital Bogota. “We have been working on the development of an unmanned aircraft for a year now.”
“Several of our trained engineers have gone to countries like Spain and are working on this project. The most important thing is to get the ideal prototype for serving our country and not only for the military theme, but to monitor the country’s energy infrastructure,” said Giha.
Colombia has been using U.S. drones since at least 2006 but the aircraft have so far been only manufactured in foreign countries.
A 2006 diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks revealed that the armed forces were using the technology to conduct surveillance of leftist guerrillas and drug traffickers. The drones in question were “ScanEagle,” a small, low-cost unmanned aircraft that needs no runway because it is launched by a hydraulic catapult system.
“The Colombian Air Force has been operating unmanned aircrafts that have been very important for military operations and even for the surveillance of oil pipelines,” confirmed the vice minister.
The defense ministry failed to confirm the exact time frame and cost of the new project. It also remains to be seen whether the drones will be limited to surveillance operations or will be armed with missiles as they are in other conflict zones.