KAI readies for serial production of military helos

Light Armed Helicopter
Light Armed Helicopter

Aerospace prime Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has signed a pre-emptive integrated procurement contract with Airbus Helicopters for the serial production of its Light Armed Helicopter (LAH) and the KUH-1 Surion medium multirole helicopter, KAI announced.

According to the company, the contract was inked on 30 August and covers the production of up to 300 helicopters over a period of 10 years. It added that the deal has provisioned for both the LAH as well as other variants of the Surion and its exports.

“The [pre-emptive integrated procurement is designed to] overcome the unstable global supply chain through co-operation between the two companies…this will enhance competitiveness in the global market based on securing mutually stable volumes,” KAI stated.

KAI is developing the LAH – which is derived from the Airbus Helicopters H155 design – to replace the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA)’s AH-1F Cobra and MD 500E/500MD helicopters. The LAH prototype was rolled out at the company’s Sacheon facility in early 2019, subsequently performing its maiden flight in July of that year. It is expected that the RoKA will acquire around 214 examples with service entry within the next two years. It is also expected that the LAH will eventually enter the export market once KAI fulfils domestic orders.

The company is also pitching an upgraded version of its Surion KUH 1E for export markets. Likewise, the helicopter was originally developed with a foreign partner, with Eurocopter (now Airbus) providing the main gearbox and rotor components and KAI providing the remaining content. While the Surion has found domestic success, it has yet to gain traction overseas although KAI believes it is close to securing a launch export customer.

by Jr Ng