Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is seeking to establish itself in the world military helicopter market with the introduction of its Korean Utility Helicopter (KUH), which is a partnership with Eurocopter. The Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) has 245 helicopters on order, with deliveries projected to start in 2012 and run for 8 – 10 years. Officials from KAI note that the 73-month project is on schedule.
The companies rolled out the first KUH prototype, during a July 31 ceremony and named it Surion. The helicopter — an advanced variant of the Eurocopter Cougar — is scheduled to fly for the first time in early 2010.
Surion will replace existing South Korean Army utility helicopters in the eight-metric-ton class. KAI is hoping that the South Korean government will order additional KUHs as replacement aircraft, including for the country’s navy.
Under its agreement with KAI, Eurocopter provides the gear boxes, rotor mast and autopilot for the Surion, as well as technical assistance for the program. Eurocopter is partnering with S&T Dynamics of Kyungnam, South Korea in developing the drive system for the helicopter. Two GE T700/701Ks will power the KUH, each rated in the 1,900-shp class.