The south korean aerospace company Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) announced on 23 December that the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has signed a KRW302 billion ($236 million) deal with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to acquire the company’s Light Armed Helicopter (LAH). The LAH is intended to replace the Korean Army’s aging MD500 Defender and AH-1S Cobra, currently in operation, in fire support missions for ground operations, armed reconnaissance, armed escort and anti-armor warfare. Under the conditions of the contract, KAl will supply the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA) with 10 LAH units, starting in December 2024. The deal also requires KAI to provide integrated product support, including training for first-time operators and a maintenance float.
The KAI LAH (Light Armed Helicopter) is a compact twin-engine combat helicopter that is being developed by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). The LAH has been developed from the Eurocopter EC155 (now Airbus Helicopters H155), which is an evolution of the famous Eurocopter AS365 N3 Dauphin 2, following an agreement between the multinational manufacturer Airbus Helicopters and KAI made in 2015. The LAH features numerous changes from the EC155 it is derived from, these include a new cockpit, improved gearbox, and redesigned rotor blades. The company has prompted several conceptual variants of the LAH, including an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and a troop-transport Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) model.
The LAH is armed with a single chin-mounted 20mm three-barreled turret gun and fitted with stub wings for carrying both 70 mm (2.8 in) non-guided rockets and air-to-ground anti-tank missiles. The Agency for Defense Development (ADD) and Hanwha developed of a new anti-tank missile, initially referred to as the TAipers (Tank Sniper, Chungum) Light Armed Helicopter Air-to-Ground Missile (LAH-AGM), as the LAH’s primary weapon. Guided by a dual CCD TV and imaging infrared (IIR) seeker delivering a fire-and-forget capability as well as a fire, observe, and update mode using a fiber-optic data-link, it provides an anti-armor capability up to 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) away. In 2021, KAI and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) signed a separate memorandum of understanding to develop a loitering munitions that may be used on the LAH.
The LAH has been equipped with various avionics and apparatus to support its operations; these include a nose-mounted electro-optic/infrared sensor package, an integrated target acquisition/designation system, and a self-protection/electronic warfare suite, which includes a radar warning receiver (RWR), laser warning receiver (LWR), MWR, and chaff/flare dispensers. The LAH is capable of using multiple new armaments, has been furnished with survivability equipment, and has the ability to carry up to ten fully-equipped troops. 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.