Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), Korea’s sole helicopter manufacturer, clinched 2.2 trillion won ($ 1.82 billion) worth procurement from the Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) to deliver Surion helicopters.
KAI said Wednesday it has signed 632.8 billion won deal with the DAPA to produce 30 Surion helicopters for the Marine Corps by 2023. It also inked another deal worth 1.56 trillion won to additionally build and deliver 70 Surion helicopters to the Korean Army by 2022, which will be its third delivery, KAI added.
KAI has so far delivered 90 Surion choppers to the Army over the past three years. Surion is Korea’s home-grown helicopter that KAI developed with the Agency for Defense Development from 2006 to replace the aging fleets of UH-1H utility helicopters and 500MD light utility helicopters. Since its first test in 2010, Surion has been developed as a multipurpose helicopter and are used also by government agencies such as the National Police Agency and the Korea Forest Service.
It will be the first time for the Marine Corps to deploy the marine variant choppers. KAI has been developing the Surion helicopter variant for the Marine Corps since July 2013 and successfully completed in January 2016. It is designed to transport troops and military supplies between a warship and land, support amphibious assault and enhance their maritime defense capabilities against North Korean threats. The South Korean Marines have previously relied on American helicopters.
The Surion-based amphibious helicopter is best suited for naval operations as the main rotor is foldable and the body is coated with anti-corrosive agents. It is also equipped with high-frequency radios, tactical air navigation (TACAN) equipment and an auxiliary fuel tank.
By Kim Jung-hwan
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