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KAI Awarded Contract to Develop Attack Helicopter for Republic of Korea Marine Corps

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KAI Awarded Contract to Develop Attack Helicopter for Republic of Korea Marine Corps

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

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) had signed a contract with South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) to develop the helicopter at a cost of USD308.65 million (KRW438.40 billion ). three prototypes will be produced and the contract is to be executed within 46 months. The attack helicopter proposed by KAI globally kept the design of the Surion family: MUH-1 Marineon amphibious helicopter. It has a 96 percent part commonality with the Surion. In April 2021, DAPA approved a project to develop an attack version of the Marineon as it is a “proven light armed helicopter (LAH)”.

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. It must “provide air fire support for ground combat units between the final operations.

Korea Aerospace Industries MUH-1 (Marine Utility Helicopter) Marineon amphibious helicopter
Korea Aerospace Industries MUH-1 (Marine Utility Helicopter) Marineon amphibious helicopter. (Photo by KAI)

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. 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 Republic of Korea Marine Corps (ROKMC) has no aircraft of its own, thus relying on aerial support from the Republic of Korea Army and Navy. On June 4, 2012, Ministry of National Defense confirmed a plan to distribute 32 amphibious mobile helicopters to ROKMC. The ROKMC scheduled to activate an aviation group between 2017 and 2020 with 2 amphibious mobile helicopter battalions and 1 attack helicopter battalion with Colonel in chief. In preparation for the group’s launch, the Marine Corps received two units of the MUH-1 Marineone, a variant of the KUH-1 Surion helicopter, in 2017, and plans to procure a total of 28 units by 2023.

Korean Aerospace Industries Surion Marine Attack Helicopter
Korea Aerospace Industries MAH (Marine Attack Helicopter) Marineon amphibious helicopter. (Photo by KAI)

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