Korea Aerospace Industries has signed an agreement with Airbus Helicopters to begin the serial production phase of Light Armed Helicopters.
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The agreement between KAI, a South Korean aerospace and defence company, and the European multinational will see improved production of the LAH at KAI’s Sacheon facility in South Korea with Airbus supporting mass production.
The agreement follows a December 2022 contract to supply 10 LAH to the Republic of Korea Army from 2024 under South Korea’s Defence Acquisition Program Administration.
Airbus Helicopters will also provide flight control systems, helicopter drive systems and support for additional serial deliveries, as KAI launches Marine Attack and Mine Countermeasure helicopter variants.
KAI rotorcraft division executive vice-president Han Chang Heon said the two companies have also signed an agreement to deepen their commitment in the joint KUH Surion program to meet operational requirements for the military, civil, and parapublic markets.
“These two long-term agreements will contribute to increasing competitiveness of KUH Surion and LAH in both local and global markets, by stabilising kit deliveries and prices, while strengthening partnership in various rotorcraft businesses,” he said.
Airbus and KAI initially started their industrial partnership in 2006, jointly working on KUH Surion, followed by the development of the LAH. The LAH prototype completed its first flight in July 2019 and was successfully qualified in 2022 after combat suitability testing in all-weather conditions.
“KAI is a long-time trusted partner with whom we have successfully developed several helicopter programs,” Airbus Helicopters Programmes executive vice-president Matthieu Louvot said.
“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.”
The partnership has seen the delivery of around 300 kits to KAI to date, with additional orders for future deliveries.