Republic of Korea Marine Corps Launches New Marine Aircraft Group (MAG)
Republic of Korea Marine Corps Launches New Marine Aircraft Group (MAG)

South Korea to Develop Surion Marine Attack Helicopter for Republic of Korea Marine Corps

South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced on 26 April that the country is planning to develop an indigenous attack helicopter to meet a Republic of Korea Marine Corps (RoKMC) requirement for 20–24 helicopters. When the Korean Marine Corps got its two first MUH-1 “Marineon” in 2018, they became the first major aircraft the 29,000-strong force received since its integration in the ROK Navy in the early 1970s. The project, which has been provisionally budgeted at $1.44 billion (KRW 1.6 trillion ) and be completed by 2031.

DAPA concluded a year-long study analysing offers from five bidding companies: Bell Textron (AH-1Z Viper), Boeing (AH-64E Apache Guardian), Turkish Aerospace (T-129 Atak), Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky (S-70i), and Korean Aerospace Industries or KAI (Surion Marine Attack Helicopter).After the year-long study, DAPA’s Defense Agency of Technology and Quality (DTaQ) concluded that procuring a locally developed platform capable of operating from the Republic of Korea Navy’s amphibious assault ships would be more cost effective than acquiring a foreign-made one.

Korean Aerospace Industries Surion Marine Attack Helicopter

The attack helicopter proposed by KAI globally kept the design of the Surion family: a twin-engine 1,800 shp , a 8,7 t MTOW and a useful load of 5,9 t, an operational range of 646 km and an endurance of 3h40. The weapons package includes a 20 mm Gatling gun with 1,400 rounds, 2.75 inch rocket pods, two quad-launchers for antitank guided missile and two dual-launchers for air-to-air missile. KAI added a suite of weapons allowing the chopper to perform two main missions, including from the ROK Navy Dokdo-class LPHs: air assault support and anti-tank attack.

The Surion Marine attack helicopter is envisaged to be fitted with the nose-mounted electro-optical/infrared targeting and designation system primarily developed by Hanwha Systems for the South Korean Army’s future light attack helicopter. The crew would receive head-mounted displays and night vision goggles. Still, there are lingering worries over the shipborne operational capability of KAI’s marine attack helicopter modified from the ground-based KUH-1 utility helicopter.