Friday, January 27, 2023

South Korea starts mass production of new attack helicopter

South Korean media reported that the Defense Acquisition and Program Administration (DAPA) and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) signed a $234 million contract to begin mass production of Light Armed Helicopter (LAH) on 22 December 2022.

The contract came after the DAPA approved a 5.75 trillion won ($4.5 billion) plan to begin mass production of the LAH through 2031.

This first production contract includes 10 helicopters and a logistics support package – the contract will be fulfilled within 36 months and the first aircraft will be delivered in December 2024.

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The KAI’s LAH aims to replace the aging fleet of 500MD Defender and AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters and assume multiple mission roles such as light attack, close air support, escort and troop transportation.

The helicopter features an integrated full-glass cockpit, equipped with smart multi-function display (SMFD) and an integrated electronic map computer (IDMC), while armed with a chin-mounted 20-milimeter turret gun, air-to-ground guided missiles and unguided rockets.

In addition, a four-axis digital automatic flight control system (AFCS), a target acquisition designation system (TADS) and a helmet-mounted display (HMD) help improve the pilot’s ability to complete missions through closer linkage with the weapons system.

Several other defense systems ― an electronic warfare computer, a radar warning receiver and a missile warning receiver ― also help improve the survivability of the aircraft.

The KAI chopper has adopted the Korean variable message format (KVMF) and Link-K ― for the first time among locally developed aircraft. KVMF is a means of exchanging digital data across an interface that could be between combat units at varied organizational levels and applicable to a broad range of tactical communication systems, while Link-K is a tactical data link system for joint operation capability upgrades of Korean forces.

“The first mass production contract carries significance as it serves as a signal of securing mass production contracts,” a KAI official said.

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About this Author

Min Cheol Gu
Gu Min-Chul is a defense reporter, covering the Korean defense industrial base and all related issues.

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