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Airbus Supports Serial Production of Korean Army’s Future Light Armed Helicopter

Airbus Helicopters has teamed with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) for the serial production of South Korea’s future Light Armed Helicopter (LAH).

The collaboration is part of a $235-million contract signed in December 2022 for 10 LAHs for the Republic of Korea Army.

Under the partnership, Airbus will provide the required kits to ramp up mass production at KAI’s Sacheon facility.

The army will start receiving the helicopters by the end of 2024, with follow-on orders expected into the next decade.

KAI’s Light Armed Helicopter

The LAH helicopter is a next-generation, 5-ton class aircraft developed for the local deployment of South Korean military and civil sectors.

It has a range of 533 miles (857 kilometers) and a maximum speed of 151 miles per hour (243 kilometers per hour).

LAH can be armed with a Gatling rotary cannon, air-to-ground missiles, or Hydra rocket launchers.

Light Armed Helicopter
Korea Aerospace Industries Light Armed Helicopter prototype. Image: Creative Commons

The rotorcraft’s prototype achieved its maiden flight in July 2019, and passed all-weather combat operability in 2022.

Approximately 300 Airbus kits have been delivered to KAI since the two companies partnered on the program.

Teaming for Additional Rotorcraft

Alongside the LAH effort, the two firms signed a separate agreement to expand collaboration for the joint Korean Utility Helicopter or KUH Surion program.

Airbus will provide expertise in flight control and drive systems to bolster KAI’s KUH local production.

This partnership will meet a wide range of operational requirements for military KUH rotorcraft customers, as well as civil and para-public markets, Airbus wrote.

It will also support the recently launched joint development of new KUH variants, including the Mine Countermeasure and Marine Attack helicopters, and their corresponding future versions.

The Marine Utility Helicopter
The Marine Utility Helicopter. Image: Korea Aerospace Industries

“We are happy to strengthen this strategic partnership with these agreements, where we will secure the delivery of these two highly performing platforms for many years to come,” Airbus Helicopters Executive Vice President Matthieu Louvot stated.

“These two long-term agreements will contribute to increasing competitiveness of KUH Surion and LAH in both local and global markets, by stabilising kit deliveries and prices, while strengthening partnership in various rotorcraft businesses,” KAI Executive Vice President Han Chang Heon added.

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