Korea becomes 11th Nation to build homegrown helicopter

South Korea has developed a home-grown, light utility helicopter, becoming the 11th nation to build a chopper with its own technology. The KAI Surion, a twin-engined light utility helicopter is designed and developed jointly by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and Eurocopter to meet the requirements of the South Korean Army and Air Force. The helicopter will be used in a variety of applications, including troop assault, search and rescue, tactical lift, liaison and medical evacuation. It can accommodate a pilot, co-pilot, two gunners and nine troops. The two-engine transport utility chopper named Surion took more than six years to build and cost about W1.3 trillion (US$ 1166076600).

The Surion comes equipped with an auto-pilot system and a three-dimensional electronic map that enables it to fly at night and in extreme weather conditions. The Surion helicopter will replace the ageing UH-1H attack helicopter and the 500MD light helicopter fleet of South Korean Army and Air Force. KAI is also planning to build civilian variants of the helicopter in 2012. Eurocopter has joined hands with S&T Dynamics of Kyungnam, South Korea, to develop the drive system for the helicopter. A total of 245 Surion helicopters were ordered by the Republic of Korea Army (ROKA). The deliveries began in 2012 and will last for eight to ten years.

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