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Korean Helicopter Program (KHP)

On March 12, 2004, the Korea Multi-role Helicopter (KMH) PMO was launched with the goal of developing the Korean Multi-Role Helicopter. But due to the financial requirement of such a large-scale program, it received negative evaluations from many different government organizations and NGOs. Therefore this program underwent a comprehensive review, and it was concluded that the utility helicopter be developed first in order to reduce financial and developmental risks and meet the military ROC. On February 18, 2005, the Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND) decided to cancel the Korea Multi-role Helicopter (KMH) project and replace it with the Korea Helicopter Program (KHP). Under the KHP, Korea will develop and manufacture utility helicopters for use by the ROK Army (ROKA).

The Korean Multi-role Helicopter (KMH) to replace the Bell UH-1, AH-1 Cobras and MD500s was planned to total 475, including attack helicopters. But it was reduced in April 2005 under a new name, the Korean Helicopter Program (KHP). The KHP is to procure 245 military utility helicopters, with $1.24Bn for development and another $4Bn for production. It meant that South Korea will not pursue attack helicopters.

The current ROK military utility helicopters such as UH-1H and 500MD are becoming decrepit. Moreover, helicopte rmanufacturer countries have closed the production lines for these models. Under this circumstance we can procure the repair parts only by order production. There are many difficulties for economical operation due to requirement of complicated training.

The Korean Helicopter is the first sole model with optimum operation capability and will be designed in consideration of ROK's specific land and climatic conditions. We expect to resolve the problems from direct purchase or technology introduction from abroad and replace aged helicopters currently being used. The projected number of deployment for the utility helicopter is 245. The development will begin at the end of 2005, and production is projected to begin in 2011 for 20 years.

In February 2005 it was announced that the Ministry of National Defense would launch a multi-billion-dollar procurement project to build utility helicopters in December 2005. A total of five trillion won ($4.5 billion) was budgeted for this Korean Helicopter Program (KHP) including research and development expenditures. The project is aimed at producing hundreds of helicopters to replace the old ones.

The nation’s helicopter project began in early 1990s to replace the Army’s aging fleet of UH-1H helicopters and to boost indigenous industrial capability for rotary-wing aircrafts. The former Korean Multi-Role Helicopter (KMH) project, development of some 500 military aircraft including 200 attack helicopters by 2012, has been downscaled, and economic feasibility of the project will be re-examined.

“The military currently has enough attack helicopters for operation until 2018,” said Park Sung-gook, a retired brigadier general in charge of the procurement project. “We will determine whether to build attack helicopters later depending on the successfulness of the KHP project.” The ministry planned to select a manufacturer from domestic and foreign bidders to proceed with the project by September 2005. At completion of the research and development phase by 2010, the manufacturer shall start production in 2011.

The KHP Management Office held the Korean Helicopter Program Bidder's Conference with KAI (Korea Aerospace Industries Co., Ltd.), a local helicopter manufacturer, 15 April 2005, to choose a foreign manufacturer to integrate the system of KHP. Several foreign companies such as Boeing, Bell Helicopter, Sikorsky in the USA, Eurocopter, Agustawestland in Europe, a Russian company attended and were distributed the Request for Proposal. The related people from KHP Management Office, Agency for Defense Development (ADD) and Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) attended at the conference as well as several domestic, foreign companies.

The first objective of the KHP is to economically and timely develop the helicopters satisfying required performance of ROK military. ROKG anticipate that we will reduce the development risk and achieve timely deployment through active inducement of the foreign capital (the joint venture, consortium, etc.) and performance of joint development that combines domestic technology and advanced technology.

The second objective is to acquire technology related to helicopter development and to localize the core components. Currently domestic aviation industry's technology of assembly and maintenance has reached to world class level. The KHP can provide a momentum for taking-off domestic aviation industries as well as accelerate development of future civil helicopter if it can acquire the development capability of system integration and core components, while we are developing the Korean Helicopter on the basis of such industry's infrastructure.

The development and purchase of the system and related components will be conducted by a local helicopter manufacturer (KAI) and research & development agencies (ADD, KARI). The Local Helicopter Manufacturer (KAI) will have 38 Development Items including system design/integration, fuselage, power system, control system. Purchase Items consist of 14 items including analog instruments. The Agency for Defense Development (ADD) will have 15 Development Items, including MEP integration, mission computer, EW management computer, and 12 Purchase Items, items including MWR. The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) will have 18 Development Items including rotor, and 5 Purchase Items, including particle separator.

On 13 December 2005 the Korean Government announced its choice of Eurocopter as the primary partner of Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) in the KHP program for the development of Korea's first military transport helicopter. Eurocopter is a wholly-owned subsidiary of EADS. EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2004, EADS generated revenues of € 31.8 billion and employed a workforce of about 110,000. The EADS Group includes the aircraft manufacturer Airbus, the world's largest helicopter supplier Eurocopter and the joint venture MBDA, the international leader in missile systems. EADS is the major partner in the Eurofighter consortium, is the prime contractor for the Ariane launcher, develops the A400M military transport aircraft and is the largest industrial partner for the European satellite navigation system Galileo.

In this major 6-8 billion dollar defense program, Eurocopter was competing against the IWIL, a UK-Italy joint venture that included Agusta Westland and the US manufacturer Bell. The Bell proposal was based on the UH-1Y while AgustaWestland was based on the A149. Bell gave up in the valuation process, and IWIL requested a monopoly. Thus, the Ministry of Defense negotiated with Eurocopter. "The Korean Government's decision is proof of Eurocopter's expertise in major international cooperative ventures and the company's technological lead in the military helicopter sector," said Eurocopter President Fabrice Bregier.

The objective of the Korean Helicopter Program is to replace the aging fleet of US transport and liaison helicopters operated by the Korean army. The 6-year KHP development phase will run from 2006 to 2011; In the following 10-year production phase, 245 helicopters are to be manufactured.

KAI is the prime contractor for the Korean Helicopter Program. As the primary partner of KAI, Eurocopter will provide technical assistance and supply the transmission and autopilot subassemblies for the helicopter. Eurocopter has a stake of 30% in the development phase and 20% in the production phase.

The KHP helicopter is in the 8 metric ton class and is capable of carrying 2 pilots and 11 troops with an endurance of well over two hours. The helicopter is equipped with the very latest technological advances. The KHP helicopter is capable of carrying 13 soldiers and is equipped with high-tech weapons systems, including two sets of 7.62-milimeter machine guns and a ``friend-or-foe’’ identification system. It is able to fly at a maximum speed of 240 kilometers and stay in the air for about two hours.

Eurocopter and KAI have agreed to set up a 50/50 subsidiary to market the export version of the KHP helicopter. Forecasts needs for this utility helicopter on the world market are set at 250 machines over 20 years. Korea is already an important country for the Eurocopter Group, which has been very successful on its civil and parapublic markets over the last few decades. KAI is the leading Korean manufacturer and this partnership is part of the policy of worldwide deployment and strategic alliances of the Eurocopter Group and its parent company EADS.

In July 2006 General Electric Company (GE) and Samsung Techwin, Co. LTD (STW) signed a contract to develop the T700 turboshaft engine for the Korean Helicopter Program (KHP). The Republic of Korea (ROK) selected the GE T700/701K to power 245 new indigenous helicopters. The 701K is the first rear-drive variant of the T700 engine, enabling easy installation into the KHP helicopter while providing opportunities to power other rear-drive applications. A modified derivative of the T700/701C (1,900 shaft horsepower class), the 701K is designed to provide power for hot-high requirements and also offers substantial growth margin to meet emerging Korean mission needs. T700/701C engines power Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks in Korea.

In October 2007 it was reported that EADS Defence & Security (DS) will equip the self-protection system under development in the Korean Helicopter Program KHP with its proven MILDS (Missile Launch Detection System) missile warning sensor. Defence Electronics, an integrated Business Unit of EADS DS, will provide in a first step the sensors for the development phase. From 2008 onward the sensors will be integrated by the Korean company LIGNex1 into the KHP self-protection system which is currently under development. The Korean Armed Forces were planning to procure roughly 250 helicopters.

As of early 2008 the Korean Helicopter Program was expected to be tested for the first time in 2009, with mass production slated for 2011.

The first prototype of the Surion utility helicopter, co-developed by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and Eurocopter, successfully completed its first flight 10 March 2010, about seven months after its rollout. The Surion has a top speed of 240 kilometers per hour and can carry two pilots and 11 troops. Under the Korea Utility Helicopter (KUH) program that began in 2006, South Korea planned to produce 245 troop-carrying helicopters to replace aging UH-1H and MD 500 helicopters. In June 2006, KAI and Eurocopter inked a 1.3 trillion-won ($1.1 billion) research-and-development contract, Seoul's biggest arms deal ever with a non-U.S. company. A production contract worth about 4.4 trillion won was expected to be signed around 2011. The production of 245 units was to start as early as late 2011 after flight and ground tests.

By mid-2011 the South Korean government had approved production to begin in September 2012, with the first deliveries expected in 2013.

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Page last modified: 06-05-2021 17:13:02 ZULU