KAI to Begin Serial Production of Light Armed
Helicopters from Airbus
Airbus has signed an agreement with Korea
Aerospace Industries (KAI) to initiate the serial production phase
of Light Armed Helicopters (LAH).
In December 2022, South Korea’s Defence
Acquisition Programme Administration awarded a contract to KAI to
supply an initial batch of ten LAH to the Republic of Korea Army.
Deliveries are expected to begin at the end of
2024, with follow-on orders to continue into the next decade.
The agreement will see Airbus Helicopters and KAI
enter into the next phase of the programme, ramping up production
of the LAH at KAI’s Sacheon facility in South Korea. Airbus
Helicopters will support KAI’s order fulfillment with delivery of
the required kits for mass production.
The two companies have also signed an agreement to
deepen their commitment in the joint Korean Utility Helicopter
(KUH Surion) programme, to meet a wide range of operational
requirements for the military, civil and parapublic markets.
This follows the recent launch of the joint
development of new KUH variants, such as the Marine Attack
Helicopter and Mine Countermeasure Helicopter, and their
corresponding future versions.
The programmes will benefit from
Airbus Helicopters’ expertise in flight control systems and
helicopter drive systems, and KAI’s industrialisation capability
for local production. Airbus Helicopters is also committed to
supporting KAI for additional serial deliveries.
“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,” said
Han Chang Heon, Executive Vice President, Rotorcraft Division of
Airbus and KAI started their long-standing
industrial partnership in 2006 when the two companies jointly
worked on the KUH Surion, followed by the development of the LAH.
The LAH prototype completed its first flight in
July 2019 and was successfully qualified in 2022, upon completion
of a rigorous test campaign for combat suitability in all-weather
The next-generation 5-tonne class helicopters have
been developed to meet Korea’s requirements for local deployment
in both civil and military sectors. Around 300
kits have been delivered to KAI to-date, with additional orders for future deliveries
“KAI is a long-time trusted partner with whom we
have successfully developed several helicopter programmes. 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,” said Matthieu Louvot,
Executive Vice President, Programmes of Airbus Helicopters.
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