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DAPA selects KAI to build light military, civilian helicopters

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A KAI photo.

SEOUL (BNS): The Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has been selected by the official Defence Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) to develop Light Armed Helicopters (LAH) and Light Civil Helicopters (LCH) under a development budget estimated to be worth over 1 trillion won ((US $974 million).

The new choppers, to be developed for the Korean military as also for export to other countries, will be built by KAI in partnership with a foreign firm.

"KAI was selected as a preferred bidder for the core technology development of the LCH project and the system development of the LAH project.

"With this selection, KAI will establish a LCH/LAH development plan, including selection of overseas system developers as well as local and foreign vendors and will be solely responsible for the system development of these two projects," the company said.

While the programme will get funding from the Government, KAI also plans to draw foreign direct investment for the project.

A final contract for the LCH/LAH development programme is expected to be inked this November.

The civilian variant of the new helo will be used for various roles including emergency services, coastal surveillance and passenger transportation.

The armed variant of it will be designed to replace the ROK military's aging fleet of 500 MDs and AH-1S attack helicopters.

KAI is presently negotiating with Italy's AgustaWestland, Europe's Airbus Helicopter, US's Bell Helicopter and Sikorsky for the LCH programme.

The company plans to complete the development of the LCH by 2020 and that of the LAH by 2022.

For the LAH, KAI plans to secure its armed and fire control system ability through international technology cooperation while also intending to make use of the civil and military parts which were acquired via the development of the LCH.

The company, in partnership with Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopter), has already developed the Surion light utility helicopter for the Korean military.

Under the new LCH/LAH project, KAI expects to sell around 1,000 helos, 600 of which could be sold to other countries.

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