KAI enters Surion talks with Philippines

04 December 2018

The Philippines has started talks with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) about a potential procurement of its Surion utility helicopter, seen here in a computer-generated image. Source: KAI

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has started talks with the Philippines about a potential sale of its KUH-1 Surion twin-engine utility helicopter, the company has confirmed to Jane's .

The platform, which has yet to secure export orders, is believed to be positioned for the Philippine Air Force's (PAF's) combat-utility helicopter (CUH) requirement.

While a company spokesperson did not provide details about the bid, she did confirm reports in South Korea stating that KAI has started "technology talks" with the Philippines about a possible contract.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said earlier in 2018 that the Surion helicopter was a possible contender to fulfil the CUH requirement after the government terminated a deal to procure 16 new Bell 412EPI medium-lift helicopters from Canada.

This contract was signed in February but, shortly after, the Canadian government launched a review of the contract, concerned that the helicopters would be used in offensive campaigns against insurgents in the Southeast Asian country. This prompted the Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) to cancel the procurement.

Another platform bidding for the CUH requirement is the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) T129 ATAK multirole combat helicopter. Arsenio Andolong, the DND's chief of public affairs, told Jane's in late November that the DND was considering the acquisition of the T129 based on the recommendation of the PAF's technical working group.

The Commanding General of the PAF, Lieutenant General Galileo Kintanar, also reportedly disclosed that the T129 was the technical working group's preferred option for the CUH programme.

If successful in the Philippines, the Surion, which KAI developed in collaboration with Airbus, would need to be optimised for combat support missions.

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