Airbus Helicopters has partnered with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to work on South Korea's light-armed helicopter/ light-civil helicopter (LAH/LCH) development programme.
With an estimated KRW1tn ($978m) budget, supported by the South Korean Government and overseas investors, the LCH/LAH project aims to develop two 5t class light-armed helicopter and light-civil helicopter.
The South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) selected KAI as preferred bidder for the project in July 2014.
Airbus Helicopters president Guillaume Faury said. "The LCH and LAH programmes will build on our collaboration with Korea Aerospace Industries on the Surion, which has become a reference in successful rotorcraft collaboration.
"By continuing our relationship, we will significantly reduce the risks of these two new development programmes, while meeting all of the mission requirements
"We are committing our full support in ensuring the LCH and LAH projects will be completed on time, on cost and to specification."
Airbus Helicopters North Asia head Norbert Ducrot said: "Not only do we have a strong partnership with Korea Aerospace Industries, we have also a proven track record of continued civil and military developments on which the two partners will capitalise for these two programmes."
Both the LCH and LAH are expected to be based on Airbus's H155 helicopter, which features the same digital four-axis autopilot that was appreciated by the South Korean pilots flying the Surion, and also ensures improved hover performance in extreme conditions, along with accurate settings for altitude, speed and headind.
The LAH helicopter is scheduled to replace the South Korean Army's ageing 500 MD and AH-1Ss attack helicopter fleets, while the LCH platform would be used by MOITE for several missions, including emergency services, coastal surveillance and passenger transportation.
The LCH version is anticipated to enter service in 2020, while the LAH's service introduction is targeted for 2022.
Image: An artistic impression of South Korea's light-armed helicopter. Photo: courtesy of Airbus Helicopters.