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KAI inks W302b deal to supply light armed helicopters

Dec. 23, 2022 - 13:57 By Lee Seung-ku
Korea Aerospace Industries' light armed helicopter is pictured in Canada, following its sub-zero test flights in December. (KAI)

South Korean defense company Korea Aerospace Industries said Friday it signed a 302 billion won ($235 million) deal with Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration to provide light armed helicopters (LAH).

Under the contract, KAI will supply the South Korean military with 10 LAH units starting in December 2024. The deal also requires KAI to provide integrated product support, including training for first-time operators and a maintenance float.

The KAI LAH is the second domestically-developed helicopter following KAI’s utility helicopter KUH-1 Surion, which started production in 2012.

The newly produced LAH will replace the Korean military’s aged 500MD and AH-1S helicopters in performing air strike missions against armored vehicles.

KAI said the helicopter is equipped with a digitalized cockpit which is furnished with state-of-the-art equipment including a smart multi-functional display, and an integrated electronic map computer. It is armed with a 20 millimeter turret machine gun, guided air-to-surface missiles, and rockets.

Features of the LAH such as the automatic pilot system, high-performance target acquisition and designation system, and helmet mounted displays enhance the mission capabilities of pilots. Moreover, the helicopter boasts high quality defense systems greatly increasing the survivability of its pilots, the defense company added.

Meanwhile, the company said LAH is also the first domestically-produced helicopter to be equipped with the Korean Army’s tactical data link, giving it an upper arm in performing network-based missions.

KAI said it will continue to develop helicopters that can serve various defense purposes, and eventually foray into the global defense market.