Aerial Warfare

First KAI LAH Light Armed Helicopter to be Delivered to South Korean Army this Year

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First KAI LAH Light Armed Helicopter to be Delivered to South Korean Army this Year

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KAI LAH (Light Armed Helicopter) compact twin-engine combat helicopter.
KAI LAH (Light Armed Helicopter) compact twin-engine combat helicopter.

The South Korean state arms procurement agency plans to deliver the first model of the newly developed KAI Light Armed Helicopter (LAH) to the Army this year as part of efforts to replace the Republic of Korea Army’s aging helicopters. The LAH model is currently in the final stages of assembly and is expected to be deployed to the Army this year after undergoing inspections. In December 2022, DAPA signed a 302 billion-won (US$225.6 million) contract with Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI) to build 10 LAHs, with delivery aimed for December this year. The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) signed another deal with KAI last month worth 1.4 trillion won for an undisclosed number of additional LAHs.

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 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. Korea Aerospace Industries has prompted several conceptual variants of the LAH, including an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and a troop-transport Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) model.

KAI LAH (Light Armed Helicopter)
KAI LAH (Light Armed Helicopter). (Photo by Korea Aerospace Industries)

The LAH features numerous changes from the EC155 it is derived from, these include a new cockpit, improved gearbox, and redesigned rotor blades. 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 LAH 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. The pilots are provided with helmet-mounted displays integrated with the fire control system. Its self-protection systems are reportedly designed to guard against man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS

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. Hanwha developed a new anti-tank missile, initially referred to as the TAipers (Tank Sniper) Light Armed Helicopter Air-to-Ground Missile (LAH-AGM), as the LAH’s primary weapon. Serial production of the missile is expected sometime in 2023, coinciding with the LAH’s introduction. Later renamed Chungum, the missile is 120 mm (4.7 in) in diameter, weighs 16 kg (35 lb), can fly at 200 m/s (720 km/h; 450 mph), and is equipped with a tandem shaped-charge warhead with impact or time delay fuses. The LAH can carry four Chungums, two on each side.

KAI LAH (Light Armed Helicopter)
KAI LAH (Light Armed Helicopter). (Photo by Korea Aerospace Industries)

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