KAI Unveils Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) to Support Special Operations Forces
KAI Unveils Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) to Support Special Operations Forces

KAI Unveils Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) to Support Special Operations Forces

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Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) unveiled Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) at DX Korea 2022, which is being held in Seoul from 21 to 25 September. The LUH is a variant of Light Armed Helicopter (LAH) that is being developed by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). The LAH has been developed from the Eurocopter EC155 following an agreement between the multinational manufacturer Airbus Helicopters and KAI made in 2015. It is capable of performing multiple mission roles including light attack, close air support, escort, and troop transport duties, replacing both the MD500 Defender and AH-1S Cobra helicopters of the Republic of Korea Army’s (ROKA). On 4 July 2019, the LAH conducted its maiden flight, KAI reportedly aims to complete its development during 2022.

The defense news and analysis company Janes reported that the LUH is being pitched for many mission sets, one of which is the Special operations Attack Helicopter (SAH). The LUH comprises a stripped-out LAH, providing greater space to carry troops both inside the cabin and on outboard benches similar to those used onboard Boeing’s MH-6M Little Bird as used by the US Special Operations Command. The SAH could be used to support special operations in dense urban environments where operators could employ the helicopter’s Fast Rope Insertion Extraction System (FRIES) to insert quickly onto the ground or rooftops, the use of Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) and Air Launched Effects (ALE).

A model of the Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) was displayed by KAI at DX Korea 2022.

Confirming that both the LAH and LUH are based on the same Airbus Helicopters H155 airframe that the LAH will have a maximum take-off weight of 4,920 kg. The airframe measures 14.3 m in length, 4.3 m in height, and 3.9 m in width. The Airbus Helicopters H155 is a long-range medium-lift passenger transport helicopter developed by Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) from its Dauphin family for civil aviation use. The LUH has been designed to perform both attack and reconnaissance missions. The flight system include a 4-axis automatic flight control system (AFCS), while the dynamic systems are designed to minimise both noise and vibration. Crashworthy self-sealing fuel tanks are also fitted.

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is a South Korean aerospace and defense company. It was originally established as a joint venture of Samsung Aerospace, Daewoo Heavy Industries’ aerospace division, and Hyundai Space and Aircraft Company (HYSA). KAI has been involved in the production of several foreign-designed aircraft via licensing arrangements, such as the MBB/Kawasaki BK 117, MBB Bo-105 KLH, and the KF-16. KAI has also developed and produced its own aircraft designs, including the KT-1 Woongbi and T-50 Golden Eagle training aircraft, the KC-100 Naraon general aviation aircraft, and the KUH-1 Surion utility helicopter. Both the company’s headquarters and several key manufacturing facilities are located in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province.