S. Korea to deploy 200 indigenous utility helicopters by 2020
South Korea will deploy 200 indigenous Surion light utility helicopters by 2020 to replace its aging fleet of choppers, the Army said Wednesday.
The Defense Acquisition and Procurement Agency (DAPA) launched a project to build a two-engine transport utility helicopter in 2006 to replace the Army's UH-1H attack helicopters and 500MD light helicopters, which have been in service for decades.
Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), the prime contractor for the project, worked with other state institutes and parts companies to build the Korean Utility Helicopter (KUH) with a budget of about 1.3 trillion won (US$1.1 billion).
The Surion, which is powered by the U.S.-made T-700 turboshaft engine, is 19 meters long and 4.5 meters high, and has a maximum cruise speed of 259 kilometers per hous.
The Surion made its maiden flight in March 2010, and four prototype choppers completed 2,000 sorties (2,700 flight hours) between March 2010 and April 2012.
The helicopters also completed 50 flight tests under extreme weather conditions in the U.S. state of Alaska for 50 days starting in December 2012, flying over 11,000 kilometers.
The turboshaft engine helicopter was exposed to temperatures of minus 40 C for more than 12 hours before flight tests were carried out and its global positioning and inertial navigation systems operated normally.
The development of the Surion made South Korea the 11th nation to build a homegrown chopper.
On Wednesday, President Park Geun-hye and Defense Minister Kim Kawn-jin attended a ceremony along with 1,000 participants at the Army Aviation School in South Chungcheong Province to celebrate the deployment and observe a test flight.
The Army will receive its first batch of 20 choppers this year, and deploy the rest of them by 2020, officials said.
Source: By Kim Eun-jung - SEOUL, Yonhap News - 22 May 2013
Photo: South Korean Surion (KUH) Utility Helicopter. The first prototype of the Surion utility helicopter, co-developed by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and Eurocopter, successfully completed its first flight March 10, about seven months after its rollout, South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced. (Photo by Yonhap)