The Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) achieved a significant milestone on November 2, 2023, with the delivery of its 200th KUH-1 Surion utility helicopter. This achievement marks a remarkable step in the modernization and enhancement of the ROKA’s rotorcraft capabilities. Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), in collaboration with the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), played a pivotal role in the development and production of the KUH-1 Surion. The inception of the project, known as the Korea Helicopter Project – Korea Utility Helicopter (KHP-KUH), dates back to 2006, with a substantial budget allocated to its research and development, amounting to approximately ?1.3 trillion. Full-scale production commenced in 2012, and KAI took on the role of the principal manufacturer of the Surion.
The KUH-1 Surion is a versatile twin-engine medium-sized rotorcraft that can accommodate up to nine troops, in addition to a crew of four, comprising two pilots and two gunners within the main cabin area. Its adaptability is a key feature, allowing for rapid reconfiguration to serve various roles, including military transport, law enforcement, aerial observation, search and rescue, maritime support, aerial firefighting, and civilian applications. The Surion is powered by a pair of Hanwha Techwin T700-701K turboshaft engines, delivering 1900shp each. These engines, a localized development of the General Electric T700, boast advanced features like a high-efficiency counter-rotating power turbine and a new Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) system. Moreover, the exhausts of these engines are equipped with large infrared suppressors, adapted from those used on the AS332.
The Surion airframe and cockpit are bulletproof against small arms fire, and crashworthy construction has been employed for the airframe, tail rotor, and rotor blades. Anti-explosion sealed fuel tanks further enhance safety measures. In the event of a loss of lubricating oil, the main gearbox is designed to allow for continued flight for a limited duration. Electronic defensive measures, including a countermeasures dispenser system (CMDS), radar warning receiver (RWR), and laser warning receiver (LWR), are integrated into the Surion. Various international companies have contributed to the equipment and technology on the Surion. Cobham plc from the United Kingdom provides navigation and communication equipment, while Sandle Avionic’s HeliTAWS multi-hazard avoidance system is utilized in Surions employed by police services. Elbit Systems of Israel produces the helmet-mounted display (HMD) used on the Surion, enabling full day-and-night operations for the crew.