RoKA Surion production nears completion

Surion medium helicopter. (JR Ng)
Surion medium helicopter. (JR Ng)

The Republic of Korea Army (RoKA) announced on 27 May that it had completed initial flight testing of the final KUH-1 Surion medium multirole helicopter ordered by the service and to be delivered by aerospace prime Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI).

The flight of the 210th production Surion helicopter for the army was conducted at KAI’s facility in Sacheon, capping a 12-year production run for the service-specific KUH-1 variant. It is understood that the company will continue production of other Surion variants for the RoK Marine Corps and Korean National Police Agency.

The Surion is a twin-engine, transport utility helicopter developed by KAI in collaboration with the state-run Agency for Defense Development (ADD) and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), and in partnership with Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters). The latter provided the main gearbox and rotor components while KAI supplied the remaining content.

Research and development of the Surion under the Korea Helicopter Project-Korea Utility Helicopter (KHP-KUH) commenced in 2006 and concluded in 2012, with the first production examples of the helicopter entering RoKA in late 2012.

KAI is also targeting the export market, signing a pre-emptive integrated procurement contract with Airbus Helicopters for the serial production of the Surion as well as its Light Armed Helicopter (LAH) in August 2023. According to the company, the contract 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 at the time.

by Jr Ng