Surion - Korea Utility Helicopter (KUH-1)
The Surion is a homegrown multipurpose helicopter, which was developed as a replacement of the Army’s old choppers in a six-year joint project involving 126 industrial, academic, research and government agencies from 2006. Completed in 2013, the development cost more than one-point-three trillion won or about one billion U.S. dollars.
The Surion is in development at the KAI under the supervision of the Ministry of Knowledge and Economy, as well as the Defence Acquisition Program Administration, and will be the first helicopter to be produced domestically. The model was designed to serve as an utility helicopter for the Korean Army, and is equipped with a twin engine that provides a maximum takeoff weight of 8.7tons. The aircraft will be able to transport up to 9 fully geared up soldiers, and deploy for cargo transport, search and rescue, airborne strike, and medical transport. The model has been in development since June 2006, and in March 2010, its first test flight ended in success. The first mass production unit will be delivered to the army by September 2012.
The first Korean helicopter, KUH-1, is produced for the army in 2012 derived to seven different purposes as marine utility, police, emergency medical, forest service and coast guard. Korea had no choice, but to rely on foreign helicopters and this made Korea face unexpected situations having very high operating cost, engineering support delay, work efficiency decrease and low compatibility of training before Korea made its own helicopter, Surion.
Current helicopter market size in Korea is about 120 helicopters and KUH only takes up to 16 helicopters having 10 of police, 2 of emergency medical, 1 of forest service and 3 of coast guard. There are roughly 200 civilian helicopters in Korea, and about half of them are for official use. 80 more Surion class helicopters are expected to be in demand by 2030, making the helicopter market a $17billion opportunity. Also, the fact that the Surion competed with other top class helicopters – and won – suggests that it may have a competitive edge in the global market as well. According to Eurocopter’s market forecast, nearly 1,000 Surion class helicopters are expected to be replaced with new models in 15 years, and the Surion will be able to take up 30% of the market share. KAI have strong will to hold a lead over foreign helicopters on the basis of immediate follow-up service and thus expand the domestic market. To enable this plan, KAI manage 14 offices in Korea to support continuous engineering service and specialized training center is also located in KAI headquarter reducing the training cost with site advantage.
South Korea’s Marine Corps will for the first time deploy some 30 Surion transport utility helicopters. Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) announced 28 December 2016 that it had signed a 2.2 trillion won deal with the Defense Acquisition Program Administration to produce the Surion helicopters. Under the contract, the KAI will supply roughly 30 Surion helicopters to the Marine Corps by 2023 and about 70 units to the Army by 2022. The choppers were expected to boost its capabilities for the Marine's independent landing operations.
South Korean news agencies reported 10 May 2016 that the KUH-1 Surion helicopter had some defects but the authorities concerned had hidden it since the first test flight. According to them, four out of the seven units in question had cracks near their vibration absorbers mounted on the left sides of the frames and some of the others have similar cracks on their windshields. The following day, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said in response that the cracked parts pose no safety problem at all because they have nothing to do with the flight safety parts and principal structure elements, and thus it will take appropriate measures next month without halting the flight of the helicopters. About 40 Surion helicopters were in operation by the Republic of Korea Army, and the KAI planned to export 300 units to Southeast Asia and Latin America by 2023.
The KUH-1, as known as Surion, is the multi-role utility helicopter. The Surion, complete with excellent maneuverability and a world-class hovering capability features cutting-edge avionics system. The copters have been deployed in the Republic of Korea Army(RoKA) for operation since the end of 2012 and carry out missions including troop transport, airfreight, contributing to strengthening military power. KAI continues to expand the scope of operation by development and modification of the military variants such as Amphibious for Marine Corps and MEDEVAC but also para-public uses for National Police Agency, Coast Guard, Firefighting and forest service and so on.
CHAMSURI is based on SURION adapted for police missions such as integrated defense, counter-terrorism, traffic management etc. It is also characterized equipping wireless transmission of aerial images, electro optic-infrared camera, search lights which enables real-time spot check and controls. Especially, two additional CHAMSURI are expected to broaden its capabilities with newly installed EMS kit including oxygenator, automated external defibrillator and air conditioning system allowing patient evacuation in broiling summer. National police agency was the first customer operating SURION-based helicopters among domestic government agencies and totally ten CHAMSURI are purchased from police including this contract.
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