Korea Aerospace Industries Co. could field a new light armed helicopter in 2022. Rendering courtesy of KAI
Korea Aerospace Industries Co. (KAI) plans to unveil a new helicopter for South Korea's military in late 2018. The manufacturer said the program is part of an initiative that began in 2015 to replace the legacy Korean Air-produced 500MDs and Bell Helicopter AH-1Ss.
Referred to as the “light armed helicopter,” or LAH, the aircraft is planned to enter the final stage of assembly in May, with rollout in November. The manufacturer hopes for first flight in 2019, with fielding to begin by November 2022.
In July, Korea Aerospace Industries faced intensified scrutiny as South Korea's new president pursued a crackdown of military-industry corruption and the government watchdog questions the performance of its showcase Surion helicopter, according to news reports from the Asian nation.
Prosecutors searched KAI headquarters in Sacheon on South Korea's south central coast, about 160 nm south-southeast of Seoul and its offices in the national capital July 15, according to numerous media in the nation, including The Korea Times and Yonhap News Agency.
Several news reports also reported July 16 that South Korea's Board of Audit and Inspection criticized the performance of KAI’s twin-engine transport and utility Surion helicopter and called for an investigation of the head of the country's Defense Acquisition Program Administration. The country's arms procurement agency launched the LAH program in 2015.