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Airbus/KAI Light Armed Helicopter (LAH) prototype.

Airbus, Korea Aerospace to Launch Helicopter Production

Sept. 5, 2023
A new manufacturing agreement commits the partners to start production in South Korea of their co-developed compact ,twin-engine helicopters for civil and military service.

Airbus Helicopters entered into a manufacturing agreement with Korea Aerospace Industries that commits them to start the serial production phase of the Light Armed Helicopters (LAH), a series of compact ,twin-engine helicopters co-developed to meet South Korea’s civil and military requirements. The partners will begin ramping up production of the LAH at KAI’s Sacheon facility in South Korea.

Their partnership has already seen Airbus deliver about 300 pre-assemble kits to KAI to-date, with additional orders for future deliveries.

The LAH was developed based on the Airbus Helicopters’ Eurocopter EC155 following an agreement between Airbus and KAI in 2015, for multi-mission roles that include light attack, close air support, escort, and troop transport. The LAH prototype completed its first flight in July 2019 and was successfully qualified in 2022, following tests of its combat suitability in all-weather conditions.

At the end of 2022, KAI was assigned a contract to supply an initial lot of 10 Light Armed Helicopters to the South Korean Army. Those deliveries will begin late in 2024, with subsequent order to continue through the next decade.

Airbus and KAI also agreed to expand their participation in the joint Korean Utility Helicopter (KUH Surion) program, to address various operational requirements for the military, civil, and parapublic markets. This follows the recent launch of the joint development of new KUH variants, such as the Marine Attack Helicopter and Mine Countermeasure Helicopter, and corresponding future versions, all of which will benefit from Airbus Helicopters’ expertise in flight-control and helicopter drive systems, and KAI’s industrialization capability.

“KAI is a long-time trusted partner with whom we have successfully developed several helicopter programs. We are happy to strengthen this strategic partnership with these agreements, where we will secure the delivery of these two highly performing platforms for many years to come,” said Airbus Helicopters EVP Matthieu Louvot.

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