The South Korea Ministry of National Defense is reportedly planning to deploy AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters ahead of schedule.
The deployment of 36 AH-64E helicopters was initially scheduled for 2018.
South Korea intends to advance deployment to this year due to increasing security concerns from North Korea, which recently claimed it had conducted a nuclear test.
Yonhap news agency cited a Ministry of National Defense spokesman as saying that the country would deploy at least two AH-64E attack helicopters per month from May 2016 until February 2017.
Expected to replace the ageing fleet of Bell AH-1S Cobra helicopters for attack missions, the AH-64E helicopters feature 16 hellfire missiles, a 30mm machine gun, and Longbow’s fire control radars (FCRs).
The FCRs are designed to locate up to 256 targets simultaneously within a 50km range.
The South Korean Army is also considering deploying the Chun-moo multiple rocket launcher, which is capable of targeting North Korean artillery as well as Korean Humvee KM-1 tactical vehicles.
The Boeing AH-64E is a heavily armed helicopter featuring fuel-efficient T700-GE-701D engines, enhanced rotor blade technology and electronics, as well as improved aircraft handling, performance and agility at higher altitudes.
Additional features include a joint tactical radio system, as well as electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) sensors to improve pilots’ situational awareness, and an oversea capacity, enabling potential strikes on smaller ships.
Image: A Boeing-built AH-64E helicopter. Photo: courtesy of Boeing photo.