Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is planning to roll out its Light Armed Helicopter (LAH) prototype next month, the Yonhap news agency reported.
“Following the rollout of the LAH’s prototype next month, an engine test is scheduled in March next year and a maiden flight in May,” a KAI official said.
The LAH will replace South Korean Armed Forces’ aging fleet of MD500 and AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters.
The 5-ton class rotorcraft is being developed along with the Light Civil Helicopter (LCH) with assistance from Airbus Helicopters. Both the LCH and LAH are based on Airbus Helicopters’ H155 (formerly known as the Eurocopter EC155) – the latest evolution of its Dauphin family, which includes the Panther military and parapublic variants.
Even before the LAH/LCH program, Airbus Helicopters had a highly successful relationship with Korea Aerospace Industries which included the joint program that developed Korea’s Surion twin-engine utility transport helicopter.
The H155 features the same digital four-axis autopilot that Republic of Korea pilots have come to appreciate when flying the Surion, and ensures outstanding hover performance in extreme conditions, along with highly accurate settings for altitude, speed and heading.
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 first operational LAH is set to be delivered to units toward the end of 2022.