CONTENT PREVIEW
Air Platforms

ADEX 2017: Korean Air progresses development of unmanned Little Bird

16 October 2017

Korean Air Aerospace Division (KAL-ASD) has progressed development of an unmanned version of the MD 500 Little Bird light-attack and observation helicopter, with a prototype being showcased at the Seoul International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (ADEX) 2017.

Seen in an optionally-piloted configuration, KUS-10 is part of a wider KUS-VH programme to develop an armed unmanned Little Bird helicopter. (IHS Markit / Gareth Jennings)Seen in an optionally-piloted configuration, KUS-10 is part of a wider KUS-VH programme to develop an armed unmanned Little Bird helicopter. (IHS Markit / Gareth Jennings)

An optionally piloted prototype of the Korean Air Unmanned System – Vertical Helicopter (KUS-VH), as the platform is designated, is on static display at the same event that concept was revealed in 2015. This latest model bears the designation KUS-10.

KAL-ASD has not revealed details of the testing programme to date, though this optionally piloted platform flew for the first time in 2016. Having already demonstrated its own H-6U Unmanned Little Bird (ULB) to the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA), Boeing signed a teaming agreement with KAL-ASD in September 2016. This agreement would see the US company help with the development of KUS-VH. Boeing declined to comment to Jane’s directly on the current status of its work with KAL-ASD, except to release a statement that read:

“Boeing is pleased to have signed a Memorandum of Agreement with KAL to provide technical assistance … as they undertake an effort to convert Republic of Korea MD-500D model helicopters to an unmanned configuration. ‎Any future missions and payloads for the aircraft are under the purview of KAL and subject to applicable international regulations. The agreement builds upon the highly adaptable optionally piloted technology first developed and demonstrated by Boeing with the Unmanned Little Bird, as well as the successful proof-of-concept work done by Boeing, KAL, and industry partners that led to flight testing of an optionally piloted Republic of Korea MD-500D model last year.”

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