KAI, Airbus To Build New Korean Helos

By Staff Writer | May 1, 2015

AgustaWestland’s contract dates to 2006.

Korea Aerospace Industries has won a $1.49 billion contract to develop civilian and military helicopters for South Korea with Airbus Helicopters.

The contract with the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) calls for the companies to develop a new Light Civil Helicopter by 2020 and a follow-on Light Armed Helicopter by 2022. The armed version would replace aging military MD500s and AH-1Ss. KAI and Airbus agreed in March to jointly develop the helicopters.


The development of the military helicopter is led by DAPA, while the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy will lead the civilian helicopter’s development.

Plans call for KAI to develop the 11,000-pound-class civil helicopter based on Airbus’s H155, the latest evolution of the Dauphin family. The companies then would use that platform to develop the armed version for the military.

Enticing Poland

Sikorsky Aircraft says it will invest nearly $200 million in Polish Military Aviation Works facilities with its Polish subsidiary, PZL Mielic, if they win a government contract for new military helicopters. The companies also said they would set up service and repair units for UH-60 Black Hawks in Polish Military Aviation Works plants in Lodz and Deblin in Poland.

The Polish military plans to acquire as many as 200 transport and combat helicopters to modernize its aviation capabilities.

The companies said awarding the contract to them would enable the Polish military to replace its current “Soviet Union” approach to serving aircraft with Western methodology.”

Indian Naval Helo

Top Indian companies reportedly are competing for India’s $1.5-billion Naval Utility Helicopters Program under the new “made in India” initiative. The competitors are said to include state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., Mahindra, Reliance Group and TATA.

India’s government issued a request for information (RFI) on the program in October, with a Feb. 28 deadline for submissions.

The government in August dropped a previous helicopter acquisition initiative and adopted the current program, which aims to have Indian industry manufacture the helicopters under a joint venture with a foreign firm.

Extended Service

The U.K. Ministry of Defence has extended AgustaWestland’s operational support of its Merlin helicopters for a third five-year period, the company announced.

The work is done under the 25-year Integrated Merlin Operational Support (IMOS) contract, which provides a comprehensive, aircraft availability-based support package for the MOD’s fleet of AW101 Merlins from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2020. It is valued at about £580 million.

“Our fleet of Merlin helicopters has benefitted from considerable investment by the MOD through major upgrades in recent years, said Philip Dunne, the U.K.’s minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, during a visit to AgustaWestland’s Yeovil, England. “This new contract will ensure we can continue to deliver flexible capability to meet the needs of our armed forces, as well as excellent value for money for the taxpayer.” The contract is projected to sustain more than 1,000 AgustaWestland jobs, which Dunne said “will maintain vital engineering skills in the defence sector.”

The aircraft supported by the IMOS contract are the 30 Royal Navy’s Merlin HM Mk.2 multi-role maritime helicopters and the 25 Merlin HC Mk.3 & 3A transport helicopters recently transferred to the Royal Navy from the Royal Air Force. The Merlin HC Mk.3 and 3A helicopters are being converted by AgustaWestland to Mk.4 and 4A standard for amphibious support operations under the Merlin Life Sustainment Program (MLSP) contract it was awarded in January 2014.

The IMOS contract includes payments for achieved flying-hour goals and incentive arrangements associated with delivering agreed levels of aircraft serviceability, operational fleet aircraft numbers and Royal Navy AW101 Merlin Training System availability.

In March 2006, AgustaWestland was awarded the 25-year IMOS contract to increase Merlin availability to front-line commands. The company has partnered with Total Support Services (an alliance of SELEX ES, Thales UK, GE Aviation) and the Defence Electronics and Components Agency to support air vehicle avionics and with Lockheed Martin UK to provide support for the Royal Navy’s AW101 Merlin HM Mk.2 mission system and the Merlin HM Mk.2 Training System.


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