Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has announced that it conducted the maiden flight of its Light Armed Helicopter (LAH) prototype at the company’s facility in Sacheon on July 4.
KAI began to develop the 4.9-ton LAH in June 2015 and completed the basic design in August 2016. The critical design review (CDR) was completed in November 2017 and the prototype helicopter was unveiled in December last year. The company aims to complete the development of the LAH by 2023.
LAH is being developed with assistance from Airbus Helicopters and is based on Airbus’ H155 (formerly known as the Eurocopter EC155) – the latest evolution of its Dauphin family, which includes the Panther military and para-public variants.
The LAH is designed to fly at a speed of upward of 324 kilometers per hour and have a range of some 905 km. Its maximum take-off load is 4.9 tons with the chopper to be equipped with a 20-mm gun and anti-armor guided missiles made locally.
The new helicopter is expected to replace South Korean Armed Forces’ aging fleet of MD500 and AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters. The first operational LAH is set to be delivered to units toward the end of 2022.
In addition to LAH, KAI is also developing Light Civil Helicopter (LCH) which is also based on Airbus’ H155 and shares more than 60% of the parts with LAH.