PARIS --- The amphibious version of the Surion helicopter has successfully completed its first flight on January 19, Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) announced on on its Facebook page on the same day.
The company has been working to develop a Marine Corps variant of its Surion helicopter since mid-2014, under a Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) contract worth 790 billion won (US$693.4 million) awarded in July 2014.
The work aims to incorporate various systems so the Surion can fully meet the rigorous requirements necessary to support amphibious landing operations. This calls for the airlifting of troops from ship to shore, and the transport of related equipment.
KAI was tapped by the government in April as the primary negotiating partner for the development of systems for the country's first indigenous amphibious assault helicopter. South Korea wants to deliver 40 machines to the Marines starting in 2017.
"Once the Marine Surion becomes operational, it will give the country's amphibious forces the ability to carry out independent landing maneuvers," a DAPA source said.
Seoul has ordered 200 Surion helicopters last year to serve with the South Korean Army. These machines will replace the old 500MD and UH-1 helicopters in the army inventory.
However, the JoongAng Ilbo reported on Dec. 22, 2014 that the Surion “local helicopter manufacturing is expensive flop” because, despite a $1.2 billion investment, KAI’s foreign partner, Airbus Helicopters, had allegedly not lived up to all its contractual obligations.
Quoting sources from the audit board, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) and the defense industry, the paper reported that “audit board has been investigating France’s Airbus Helicopters, which signed a technology transfer deal. The company had promised to provide the technology to produce the power delivery system for the helicopter in 2006. “
“Along with rotor blades and an electronic control system, the power delivery mechanism is one of the key technologies in a helicopter.”
Click here for the full story, on the Korea Jjoongang Daily website.