Airbus Helicopters and Korea Aerospace Industries Partnership
In 2015, a contract of value 1.5 billion euros was agreed upon between Airbus Helicopters and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). The goal was to assemble and develop over 300 LCH and LAH type helicopters. Projected global sales stand at a minimum of 600 units, promising Airbus Helicopters an income of several billion euros over the forthcoming two decades.
Focus on South Korean Military Needs
The initial focus of the program is to cater for the needs of the South Korean military. They plan to purchase 214 LAH helicopters to replace the older models of MD500 Defender and AH-1S Cobra.
The LAH is designed for attack and reconnaissance missions and can transport up to 10 equipped soldiers. Its inaugural flight was in 2019.
The LAH is equipped with a multitude of features such as optronic sensors, an integrated target acquisition/designation system, self-protection devices, an electronic warfare suite, a 20mm M197 gun, 4 Chun-gum air-to-ground missiles, or two Hydra 70 rocket pods. Powering the LAH are two HAS-Arriel 2L2 turbines which are produced by Hanwha Aerospace under license from the French group Safran.
Contracts with DAPA
In 2021, a contract was awarded to KAI by DAPA, South Korea's arms agency. This contract, worth about 210 million euros, was for the delivery of the first 10 LAH units. The South Korean military is expected to receive these units in 2024.
A new contract has been awarded to KAI by DAPA for nearly 1 billion euros for the production and delivery of the second batch of LAH. The number of units for this batch is currently unspecified. This contract is expected to last approximately 60 months, with the second batch expected to be delivered sequentially from the fourth quarter of 2025.
KAI has plans to develop at least two more versions of the LAH for special operations and C2 (command and control) missions, prompted by the visibility from the DAPA order. Additionally, KAI has plans to actively explore export markets, following great interest from foreign customers at the recent Dubai airshow.