Korea Aerospace Industries Unveils Prototype of Light Armed Helicopter (LAH)

Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI) announced on Dec. 18 that it unveiled the Light Armed Helicopter (LAH), which means that the helicopter enters into a full-fledged test and evaluation phase.

The roll-out ceremony took place at the KAI headquarters and key figures attended the event including Kim Jo-von, President and CEO of KAI, and Seo Ju-seok, Ministry of Defense Vice Minister.

“I would like to express my thankfulness to the engineers who have taken pains to launch the first pilot LAH all the while and those in the relevant authorizes who spared no effort to support us”, said KAI president Kim Jo-won. “KAI will do its utmost to manufacture an airplane which the Korean military and the people can trust via a thorough test and evaluation process.”

“The LAH as a copter complete with a hi-tech air navigation and a high degree of mobility is a big feat in the Korean defense industry”, said Vice-Minister of National Defense in his congratulatory speech. “The ministry will give its full support to the stability of the domestic defense industry which is most recently in low water. including improvement in the weapons system development scheme and export support at the governmental level.”

From the next month, KAI will conduct a series of ground tests to see if the prototype helicopter’s engine and other systems wonk properly before it makes a first flight in May 2019 through July 2022.

KAI began to develop the 4.9-ton LAH in June 2015 and completed the basic design in August 2016. The final design was fixed in November 2017 and the prototype helicopter was assembled last month. The company aims to complete the development of the LAH by 2023.

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 Light Armed Helicopter (LAH) and the Light Civil Helicopter (LCH) development is an integrated civil and military helicopter development project of KAI jointly with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, and South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA). Since the parts and components of the LAH and LCH have a lot in common, more than 60%, the efficiency of the once-developed parts is pretty much high, which can lead to save development cost and maintenance. Based on it, the company envisions expanding the target market even to the foreign military and civil helicopter market. LCH is set for completion in 2021, while LAH for 2028, including the training system.

Both the LCH and LAH are being developed with assistance from Airbus Helicopters. They 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 para-public variants.

The LCH which KAI and Airbus Helicopter are jointly developing finished its first flight success fully in July in France and it is now in test and evaluation. Targeting for launch in the second half of 2019, KAI is currently manufacturing its second version of LCH, applied with home-grown parts and components.

The LCH, which can carry up to 15 passengers, will be used in the governmental agencies like the police, fire station and forest service sectors, and stepping forward, is expected to be utilized for diverse uses. including transport of passengers. especially VIPs. emergency medical services and tourism and more.

Followed by its medium-class Surion helicopter, KAI is going to build a fleet line-up, based on a diverse aircraft platform via development of the small-class LAHx’LCH. seeking to expand the military- civil helicopter market at home and abroad. The demand of both the Surion helicopter in the police, fire station and forest service authorities and the LCH-class helicopter in the governmental agencies are predicted to reach approximately 300 units in total.

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